Kneading the customer: Sudden shortage, panic purchases hike prices

20kg bag of flour being sold for Rs110 more.

Mudassir Raja January 06, 2013
20kg bag of flour being sold for Rs110 more. PHOTO: FILE


It was flour’s turn to play hard to get on Saturday. Much like everything else, the commodity was short in supply and witnessed a dramatic increase in price.

“I asked for a 20kg sack of flour but was only given 10kg by the shopkeeper in Banni Bazaar. He said that the commodity was short in supply,” said Rafique Abbasi, who lives on Saidpur Road.

When I paid him the usual Rs640 for the 20kgs, he said the price has been increased to Rs750 for the same amount, he added.

Stating the reason for the sudden shortage, shopkeepers said that wheat had gotten expensive and they were not getting enough flour from the mills.

Mills are not selling the commodity according to the demand, as they are expecting the Punjab government to increase wheat prices, said Ahmed Yar, another shopkeeper.

There was no dearth of flour in the market, he said, but the buyers were panicking and started buying more than normal. The situation would be under control with the official announcement of increase in the price, he added.

Steering Committee of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on Flour Mills Chairman Raza Ahmed Shah said that there was no shortage of supply from the mills.

Regarding the rates, he said the ex-mill price was Rs618 per 20 kg sack and the retailer was expected to further sell it as high as Rs640 or 650. The higher rates were uncalled for, he said.

Shah added that the provincial government had increased the issue price of 100 kg sack of wheat grain to Rs125. After the formal notification of the raise, ex-mill price of wheat flour would be increased.

Meanwhile, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Rawalpindi Saqib Zaffar said he had directed the district food controllers to conduct a crackdown on stores hoarding flour and clamp down on retailers selling it on higher prices.

He further said the flour mills would also be checked for charging higher prices or hoarding the commodity.

In response to a question, the DCO said he had heard about the increase in wheat grain price by Punjab government but had not received any written notification.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2013.


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