The price of soybean oil in the local market is still high although it fell significantly in the international market.
It came down from $934 to $721 per tonne(Tk 71 to Tk 56 per kilogram) in the international market between April and October.
Several retailers at Kawranbazar in the capital city told this correspondent that now they sell bottled soybean oil between Tk111 and Tk113 per litre depending on brands.
However, the price of loose soybean oil showed a downward trend. It varies now between Tk 77 and Tk78 per litre. It was at Tk80 per litre a month back.
The price difference of loose soybean and bottled soybean is Tk 30 to Tk35 per litre, according to market sources.
About the high price in the local market concerned quarters blamed absence of any market monitoring mechanism of the government. Besides, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) which is supposed to have an alternative supply of essential items at necessity has failed to perform.
According to sources in the Commerce Ministry, the demand for edible oil in the country is 14 lakh tonnes of which 11.50 lakh tonnes are imported.
Consumers prefer bottled soybean oil as they think it is safer than the loose soybean oil. They alleged the edible oil companies taking advantage of such dependence on the bottled soybean oil.
They further alleged that what the edible oil traders sell in the name of soybean oil is actually super palm oil. A monkey-game has been going on for the last nine months as there is a price-difference of Tk 15-20 per kilogram between these two types of oil.
Unscrupulous traders cannot resort to such cheating during three months of winter because palm and super palm get condensed in chill. The real soybean oil comes in the market but it is not available at palm's price. It has to be bought at prices higher by Tk 20 to 25.
To the consumers the demand for soybean remains the same throughout the year. When there is no chill in weather consumers are bound to buy palm oil in the name of soybean.
But during the winter when consumers buy real soybean its demand increases in the eye of sellers. At that time palm cannot be transformed into soybean and the sellers increase prices saying 'supply is less while demand is more'.
Buyers have accepted the excuse that the prices of soybean go up during the three months of winter. Here lies the excessive profit and cheating by the traders.
It is learnt from the local market that in three-four days of the advent of winter, the price of soybean increased by Tk 100 per maund (about 40 kilogram).
Retailers blame lower supply for price-rise. Consumers make the comment like "when palm oil cannot be turned into soybean there will definitely be a supply-crisis.'
The wholesalers of Moulavibazar in old Dhaka said, "A few days ago the price of soybean per maund in their market was Tk 2,970 and per kg price was Tk 79.56.
Now it is at Tk 3,070 per maund or Tk 82.26 per kilogram. It means the price-rise is Tk 2.68 per kilogram. "When there will be chill in full, the price will rise by at least Tk 20 per kilogram," a trader of Kawranbazar commented.
An executive of an oil-mill said, "Ahead of Ramadan millers imported a large quantity of soybean. That soybean was lying in the port and also stored in the mills. As in the meantime the prices have gone down in the international market they have been under pressure from the big losses. To cover up that loss they are waiting for the winter because in the winter the demand for soybean increases."
They are now busy to utilise that opportunity, he said. Former General Secretary of Bangladesh Bhojjotel (edible oil) Byaboshahi (traders) Samity (association) Mohammad Ali Bhutto said "With the advent of the winter, demand for soybean in the market has increased. But compared to that, there is no such supply. Those who have stocks have also slowed supply and as a result the price has increased by Tk 100 per maund." But he admitted that the price in the international market is low.
According to estimates of TCB, soybean was sold for Tk 80 to 88 per kilogram on Wednesday. Its price was Tk 80 to 85 per kilogram. And as per estimate of the Agricultural Distribution Agency soybean was sold for Tk 81 to 82 per kilogram on Wednesday which a month earlier was sold at tk 78 to 80 per kilogram.