Bangladesh cooking oil traders jittery as ‘instability’ persists after price hike

Traders are watching the market cautiously with “instability” persistent in parts of the supply chain after a price hike amid a shortage.

Published : 13 May 2022, 08:54 PM
Updated : 13 May 2022, 08:54 PM

Consumers are also guarded, leading to a fall in demand. Many still have oil in their stocks bought before Eid, while many others have opted for alternatives to soybean oil because of the price hike or shortage.

The fall in demand and rising global prices have also led to a decrease in palm oil prices at mills.

Businesses, sensing the price hike amid the Ukraine-Russia war, started stashing away cooking oil before Eid, creating an artificial shortage during the festival to profiteer.

They intended to sell the products now after the price hike that came just after Eid.

But an ongoing crackdown on illegal hoarding thwarted the traders in many places. They were fined and forced to sell hundreds of thousands of litres of products found in the drives at previously fixed prices.

After the reopening of banks following the Eid holidays, traders started buying cooking oil, but Shafiul Athar Taslim, a director of TK Group, said their products have not reached all the corners of the country. “It can happen. Wholesalers in many areas could not buy oil for some reason or the other.”

In Dhaka, many retailers said they are yet to get oil while the demand has fallen. A trader in Mirpur got the first supply of Teer soybean oil a week after the Eid and collected five cartons on Thursday. “I usually sell five cartons [of soybean oil] a day, but half of yesterday’s oil is still in my shop,” said Faruk Hossain of Mainul Store.

Faruk has stopped selling loose cooking oil due to volatility in the market. “We don’t get loose oil at the prices fixed by the government and eventually, the authorities fine us. So, I'll not sell loose oil for now. I'll resume selling loose oil after watching the market for at least one month, when the market normalises.”

Abul Hashem, general secretary of Bangladesh Edible Oil Traders Association, said supply resumed after Eid, but it is still not sufficient. “Supply must increase. People may buy less oil now due to the price hike, but they won’t stop buying.”