Retailers run out of cooking oil as crisis deepens ahead of Eid

Some grocers, who agreed to be interviewed by bdnews24.com, complained that dealers at Mirpur Shah Ali Market, Mohammadpur Krishi Market and Karwan Bazar, the country’s largest wholesale market, refused to sell them bulk soybeans and palm oil in the last two days.

As a result, retailers cannot sell the preferred cooking oil to customers who, in desperation, have purchased mustard oil, sunflower oil and bran oil instead. rice.

Although the government has already removed value added tax on cooking oil imports to control prices, retailers have alleged that they have been forced to buy from dealers at a higher rate.

After analyzing the import costs and the state of the local market, the government decided to set a higher ceiling price by increasing the price of soybean oil before Ramadan.

Bottled soybean oil was priced at 160 taka per litre, while bulk soybean oil was priced at 140 taka. And the price of super palm oil was set at 130 taka per litre.

However, some retailers, who did not want to reveal their identities, said they could buy bottled soybean oil at over Tk 200 per liter and resell it to consumers at an even higher price. raised.

Tipu Sultan, a Pirerbag retailer in Dhaka, said he was forced to stop selling soybean oil because it had been out of stock for two days.

Another retailer, Mohsin Islam, said it sold bulk soybean oil at 181 taka per liter and palm oil at 171 taka per litre.

“The dealers refuse to give invoices for the sale of oil. If we (the grocers) insist, they refuse to even make the sale,” he said.

Abdur Razzaque, the owner of Rakib Store in Karwan Bazar, said he had stopped selling soybean oil and palm oil for the past two days due to unavailability.

Mohsin also said some of his fellow retailers dropped off cash at one store for sale and were told to collect the oil from another store in a different market.

Consumers alleged that a cartel of traders had created instability in the market, which had driven bulk soybean oil prices up to 50 taka per litre.

Some traders have reportedly sought to take advantage of the situation by pouring soybean oil from bottles and selling them in bulk.

Government stakeholders said the companies took advantage of continued global market volatility amid the Russian-Ukrainian war to boost the prices of old shares.

Monjur Mohammad Shahriar, director of the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate, told bdnews24.com that his team worked tirelessly throughout Ramadan to crack cartels, raiding various wholesale markets.

“We found that some traders and dealers were hoarding cooking oil to maximize their profits when they thought the price had peaked,” he said.

“We picked up a stock of 2,000 liters of soybean oil from a trader by the name of Bismillah Traders, who refused retailers on the grounds that they had been out of stock for a few days.”

“We will force the owners to keep the store closed for a month as punishment,” Shahriar said.

Five days ago, Abdur Rahim, the owner of Bismillah Traders, told bdnews24.com that they had not received any kitchen supplies for seven days.

Only six factories refine or produce edible oil, including soybean oil and palm oil, for the domestic market.

However, the owners of these factories have always maintained that they are at 100% capacity and see no change in production or sales on their end.

When contacted, Meghna Group deputy adviser Mohammad Shafiur Rahman said the factories were not involved in the oil supply crisis and that it is up to the government to find out who is responsible for the crisis.

Garland K. Long