Wholesale prices of spices drop to record low

There is a sudden trend in decline in prices of spices across the country. Such decline has been observed in most of the wholesale markets across the country ahead of the Eid-ul-Adha, a Muslim festival 

when people sacri- fice animals. Such trend, noticed in last few days, is unusual in contrast to the traditional artificial price hike of spices in the wholesale markets ahead of such festivals as observed in previous years.

Traders blamed crisis of coronavirus for the decline in prices of spices saying that there are fewer customers and so the demand has drastically fallen and so has the prices.

According to traders, import and stockpiling of spices was sufficient this year ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. However, much to their surprise sales were unusually low considering Eid-ul-Fitr, the demand for spices has dropped abnormally before Eid-ul-Adha.

Traders across the country are not ordering spices in huge bulk quantities from Khatunganj, the biggest wholesale market in the country located in the port city of Chattogram. Those who are doing are ordering far less than they did before. Due to this, the prices of spices are decreasing almost every day.

Several traders said that the unusual fall in prices of spices have surprised them. Many hoarded lots of spices in the hope of doing business before the Eid al-Adha. 

But as prices continue to fall, many such ambitious traders have suffered huge losses.
They fear that if this trend of falling prices continues, many traders in the wholesale market will close down their businesses.

Dhaka's spice market traders said demand for cooking essentials was lower than in usual times. Meanwhile, Khatunganj traders said they were not getting enough bulk orders for spices compared to the same period in the previous years.

Additionally, restaurants and eateries were some of the main customers for spices. As social gatherings have been suspended and restaurants are struggling with low turnout of diners since their reopening in June, large sales of spices have dropped.

A survey on various markets in the capital on Tuesday revealed that cinnamon is being sold at Tk 380 to 400 per kg, a drop from Tk 450 a few days ago. Along with cinnamon, cardamom is on the price reduction list. The price of cardamom is Tk 3,200 – a drop from Tk 3,600 per kg.

Prices of cumin, another essential spice for cooking meat, has come down to Tk 300 -Tk 350 a kg from its previous prices of 500.
The list also includes cloves, bay leaves, coriander, ginger, onion, garlic, turmeric and dried chilies. 

The price of imported garlic, which has been declining for a few days, has come down to Tk 80 per kg. locally produced onion is available at Tk 40 per kg. But even two weeks ago, the price of garlic was way above Tk 140 per kg and onion was above Tk 50 per kg.

The report of the government organization Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has also come up with information that the prices of all types of spices have come down. 

According to the TCB, the price of locally produced onion has come down by 11.76 per cent and the price of imported onion by 28.57 per cent in one month.

Spice traders said the novel corona virus pandemic has slashed people's purchasing capacity and, like with Eid-ul-Fitr this year, potential customers seems are not too concerned about spending much on cooking for the upcoming festival.

Besides, spice traders across the country used to gather to Khatunganj at least one month ahead of Eid-ul-Adha. The wholesalers would buy spices in bulk and bring them to markets across the country.

However, the wholesale center remains almost empty in this corona crisis compared to previous years. A number of spice traders fear unprecedented losses with plenty of cooking essentials still remaining unsold in the stock.

Mashuk Miah, a businessman from Sylhet, said, "This is the first time I noticed the price of spices going down before Eid-ul-Adha. In the previous years the price of spices goes up even before Eid festivals.”

Meanwhile, the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) thinks unscrupulous traders may hike spice prices any time before the Eid. The organization asked the local administration to intensify its market monitoring.