In Lahore, fruit vendors turn a profit amid pandemic panic

As people turn to traditional nutritional supplements, price of fruits, dried fruits honey inflates considerably

Rizwan Asif June 25, 2020
LAHORE: In a bid to boost their immunity and keep illness at bay amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, many are naturally incorporating fruits, nuts, honey and other traditional nutritional remedies in their diet.

Rising demand, however, has driven the prices of such items by as much as 35 to 45 per cent, prospective buyers complain, with the government’s price control mechanisms virtually ineffective.

“We get between 50 and 60 trucks carrying plums and peaches and 10 trucks carrying apricots from Khyber-Pakthunkhwa every day. But the demand for these fruits is much higher,” said Punjab Federation of Vegetable and Fruit Traders General Secretary Haji Ramzan, when contacted. “Doctors everywhere in the country have asked people eat more peaches, apricots and plums to keep their immune system robust enough in case they catch coronavirus. That has driven up demand, which in turn has raised prices by 35 per cent.”

“Even though we have the same supply as last year, the rising demand is driving up prices,” he said, adding that prices are even higher in upscale neighbourhoods where retailers charge 10 per cent more for the fruits.

Dried fruits and nuts are similarly being sold for hiked up prices, even though sellers admit they are not even in season yet. A market survey in Lahore revealed walnuts being sold for between Rs1,800 and Rs2,500 per kilogramme, while cashews were available for Rs2,200 to Rs3,000 per kilogramme.

“We usually sell more dried fruit in winter, but right now the demand for them is extraordinary due to the medical advice people are receiving,” said a dried fruit vendor in Lahore’s Baden Road area. “Usually, in summers we reduce our prices, but the coronavirus has driven up prices again,” he said.

However, it is honey that has been affected worse by Covid-19 with sellers not only jacking up prices but adulterating it as well. A survey revealed that a kilogramme of honey was being sold for between Rs3,000 and Rs4,000. Market sources, however, revealed that pure honey had all but vanished from the market and many sellers were selling an adulterated supply.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2020.


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