Mar 10 - 16, 2008

LAHORE: Manufacturers of Ghee and oil are taking undue advantage of hike in the price of palm oil in international market, as despite having sufficient stock they are constantly rising prices of their respective brands of ghee and oil soon after jump in palm oil price in the international market.

It requires the period of three months for the import of palm oil from the US or Malaysia and the local manufacturers, despite having stocks of oil are unjustifiably enhancing prices of ghee and oil, said Mr. Rauf Butt, a trader of Ghee at Akbari Mandi, the main commodity market in Lahore while talking to Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE).

According to him, the government had not enhanced import duty on oil; therefore, our manufacturers need to observe some ethics.

Price of palm oil in international market breaking all past records climbed to a new top most height at $1500 per ton.

Mr. Rauf Butt said during the current week average prices of sugar and gur registered decrease, while that of vegetable ghee (loose), cooking oil (tin), vegetable ghee (tin), moong pulse (washed), masoor pulse (washed), mustard oil, curd, rice basmati (broken), wheat flour (average quality), washing soap (nylon), tea (prepared), gram pulse (washed), rice irri-6, wheat (average quality), red chilies and garlic registered increase.

On the other hand, oil importers told this scribe that the palm oil price in the Malaysian market surged by US$100 per ton in the wake of Chinese palm fruits crop being hit and the palm oil traded at a record high price in the international market.

Besides, they said that the Indian traders have placed orders in the international market for the import of palm oil in the backdrop of the news relating to prospective rapeseed crop output remaining less than the expectations.

Market sources told this scribe that the cottonseed oil price during the last few days was seen climbed up by Rs 200 per ton due to the international palm oil price peaked at $1500 per ton, while it further went up by a staggering Rs 300 and peaked at Rs 4,500 per ton. They said that cottonseed oil price during the last few months cumulatively recorded Rs 1,800 per ton jump.

Moreover, majority of utility stores in Lahore are currently facing shortage of ghee and edible oil, as a large number of people return to their homes empty-handed after standing for hours in long queues.

The people tussling with each other outside the utility stores are enough to portray the difference between demand and supply at the utility outlets.

Anwar Ahmed, an official at a utility store in Shadman told this scribe that it was difficult to manage crowds of people and added that the number of customers at USC had registered a significant increase after the price of ghee and oil shoot up in the open market.

He said the store was receiving 1000 packets of its owned brand of "Manpasand ghee" of one kg on daily basis but it was not sufficient to cater to the needs of customers.

Baber, a low-paid government employee said that he was standing in the queue for more than three hours to purchase the ghee but the store administration was giving preference to those who had bought other items from the store.

Many consumers at different utility stores were of the view that besides the "Manpasand ghee" the supply of other edibles, particularly black and white grams and some pulses was not satisfactory.

When contacted an official of Utility Stores Corporation, he claimed that there was no shortage of daily use items at utility stores but the increased price of ghee in the open market had forced the customers to throng to utility stores. He said the sharp increase in the prices of edible oil and ghee in the open market had put great pressure upon the utility stores as the number of customers had increased manifold. He said there was no issue of demand and supply of ghee before the increase in the price in the open market.