Traders attributed the situation to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, noting that with people having a hard time purchasing essential commodities
Demand for vermicelli, a dessert staple during festivals, is low in the capital's kitchen markets ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Traders attributed the situation to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, noting that with people having a hard time purchasing essential commodities, it was understandable why vermicelli was not on their buying list this year.
Visits to several kitchen markets in Rampura, Malibagh and Karwanbazar by this correspondent showed only a handful of customers purchasing vermicelli.
Shamsul Alamin bought a single packet of vermicelli along with other commodities from Karwanbazar yesterday.
He said the pandemic had forced his company to cut his salary along with that of others.
"In previous years I bought at least five packets before every Eid. This year I could muster only one 200g packet for my children. I also could not purchase powdered milk as its price has increased," he lamented.
According to traders, vermicelli of such brands as Kolson, Alauddin, Prince and Banoful were mostly available in markets.
Due to the pandemic, scores of seasonal companies were unable to manufacture vermicelli this year.
A 200gm packet of Kolson vermicelli was selling for Tk30-35, Banoful vermicelli Tk35-36 per packet, Prince for Tk35 a packet and a 500gm packet of Alauddin vermicelli was selling for Tk120.
Abu Sayed, a wholesale trader in Karwanbazar, said vermicelli sales had decreased by 80% in comparison with last year.
"Last Eid-ul-Fitr I sold 150 sacks (each sack contains 50 packets), but now I can’t sell more than 10-12 sacks. Most of the customers are purchasing vermicelli to include the item in relief aid."
Md Russel, manager of Alauddin vermicelli factory, said the factory’s production had been reduced by at least one-third due to the countrywide shutdown amid Covid-19.
“We had 170 workers but now only 35 workers are working in the factory. Buyers are not coming since they cannot come from different districts. Making a profit will be difficult this year,” he said.
There are allegations against several factories that they produce vermicelli in unhygienic conditions.
Three vermicelli factories were fined Tk60,000 by the Directorate of National Consumer Protection (DNCRP) for producing vermicelli in dirty and unhygienic conditions at Kamrangir Char.
“Although the demand for and supply of vermicelli have decreased, some factories have continued making vermicelli in unhygienic conditions. Tk30,000 in fines were slapped on Habiba Food, Tk20,000 on Bhai Bhai Food and Tk10,000 on Mitali Food recently,” said Bablu Kumar Saha, director general of DNCRP.
Powdered milk prices go up
Meanwhile, prices of powdered milk have gone up in the city, with traders selling powdered milk at different prices.
Dano was selling powdered milk for Tk630-650 per kilogram, which was Tk620-640 a kg a week ago. Diploma (New Zealand) sold for Tk630-650 per kg, which was Tk620-630 a kg earlier, Marks for Tk 570-6200 a kg which was Tk530-560 per kg earlier and Fresh for Tk590 per kg, which was Tk540-560 a kg a week ago.
Packaged sugar was selling for Tk70-72 a kg yesterday, while unpacked sugar sold for Tk60-65 a kg.
Traders said although the supply of powder milk and sugar was sufficient the price had increased due to an increase in their demand ahead of Eid.