KARACHI: In an already struggling environment, the surging prices of wheat flour, onion and sugar have added salt to the wounds of low- and middle-income households.

The price of onion, a high-running staple food of almost every household, has jumped to Rs200-220 per kg from Rs150-180 per kg last week, while it was tagged at Rs120-150 per kg two weeks back.

While retailers continued to blame higher onion exports to various countries, President Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market, Super Highway, Haji Shajahan reiterated that the wholesale rates had swelled up to Rs7,000 per 40kg two days back from Rs4,500-5,000 due to lifting of onion in bulk quantities by the exporters to cash on the ban imposed by India on onion exports till March 2024.

He said the wholesale rate, however, reverted to Rs5,500-6,000 per 40kg after the improved supply from the country’s producing areas but it is hard to predict the future trend.

The arrival of onions from Afghanistan had also been suspended due to the closure of the border which had further created pressure on the domestic prices. There is also a possibility that Afghanistan and Iran are now diverting their shipments to other countries which are dependent on Indian onion, he feared.

Consumers braved another blow after a rise in flour no.2.5 and fine/maida prices to Rs127 and Rs140 per kg from Rs122 and Rs135 due to delayed arrival of Russian wheat, said Pakistan Flour Mills Association, Sindh Zone, Chairman Aamir Chaudhry.

He claimed that the price of Russian wheat at the port had risen to Rs10,800 per 100kg bag from Rs10,300 last week.

A retailer in the Tariq Road area said the price of branded chakki and fine flour is now Rs158 and Rs152 per kg as compared to Rs154 and Rs148 on Dec 1. The chakki and fine flour rates were Rs150 and Rs144 per kg on Nov 16.

KWGA chairman Rauf Ibrahim said the wholesale sugar rates had risen by Rs15 per kg to Rs131 in the last four days over speculation that the millers may get permission to export the sweetener.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2023

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