Sugar price mystery baffles Bangladesh as traders, refiners play blame game

| Updated: February 05, 2023 18:23:26

Sugar price mystery baffles Bangladesh as traders, refiners play blame game

Refiners proposed to raise the retail price of unpackaged sugar by Tk 5 to Tk 107 per kg about two weeks ago. But the actual price of the sweetener in Dhaka’s markets was already higher than the new rate and now retailers are selling it at Tk 115 per kg.

Traders and refiners have blamed each other for the difference between the fixed and actual rates.

Amirul Islam, a wholesaler at Shah Smrity Market in Mirpur, said he bought Fresh brand sugar from the refiners at Tk 106.6 per kg on Saturday and was selling the consignment at Tk 106.8 per kg.

“The mill owners proposed a new rate to the government and promised to follow it, but they did not keep their word,” he said.

Amirul blamed a syndicate of refiners for the abnormal price hike and called for tough government action against them.

He thinks it is possible for such a syndicate to embezzle around Tk 50 billion a day by raising the price by just Tk 1 a kg.

Another wholesaler, Mohammad Nayeem of Karwan Bazar, said he was selling Fresh brand sugar at Tk 107 after buying it at Tk 106.4 a kg.

“There is no supply crunch at the mills. They provide sugar just two to four hours after we send the trucks,” he said, blaming the retailers for the high price.

“It should be enough for them if they make a profit of Tk 2 per kg. What can we do if someone sells at a higher rate? Maybe they [retailers] are taking advantage of the situation.”

Golam Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Sugar Refiners Association and managing director of Deshbandhu Sugar Mills Ltd, also said the mills are supplying sufficient sugar to the markets.

“The price has remained at Tk 101 or Tk 102 at the mills. There is no report of a supply crunch now. If someone still tries to make an unusually high profit, it is the government’s duty to find them.”

AHM Shafiquzzaman, director general of the government’s consumer rights agency, said they conducted a drive against irregularities in the sugar market two days ago and fined several traders in the markets.

The National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate will sit with refiners on Saturday and Sunday on the issue, he said.

Biswajit Saha, a director of City Group which markets sugar under the brand name Teer, did not respond to requests for comment.


While raising the prices on Jan 26, the refiners said a hike in production cost, the price of unrefined sugar in the international market, and the dollar price led the association to set the new rates in consultation with the commerce ministry.

It raised the retail price of packaged sugar by Tk 4 to Tk 112 a kg. Packaged sugar, however, is in short supply.

Md Lokman Hossain, a grocer in Mirpur, said marketing agents offered him packaged sugar at Tk 110 per kg, compared with Tk 107 mentioned on the packets.

“They asked me to sell the product at Tk 120 per kg. But if I did it, I would have faced hefty fines by the consumer rights directorate. So, I stopped selling packaged sugar.”

A salesman of retail chain Shwapno said they have been selling loose sugar from Fresh brand for a month, as no company is selling packaged sugar now.

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