KARACHI: As consumers struggle to cope with high food prices and utility bills, flour millers on Tuesday further increased prices of various varieties of flour by Rs6 per kg.
The new rate of flour no. 2.5 has been fixed at Rs88 per kg which was Rs82 per kg last week and Rs78 per kg in the last week of May.
Similarly, fine flour and maida (super fine flour) carry new rates of Rs91 per kg as compared to Rs85 per kg last week. These fine flour varieties were tagged at Rs81 in the third week of May.
Talking to Dawn, a miller quoted the new rate of a 10 kg flour bag at Rs885, which was Rs785 a month back.
A retailer said the price of chakki flour has risen to Rs100 from Rs90 a month ago. The branded 10 kg bags of Bake Parlour and Ashrafi fine flour sell at Rs950, while the five kg bag price hovers between Rs480 and Rs490.
According to a flour miller in Karachi, makers have been demanding hassle-free movement of wheat to Karachi from growing areas in Sindh for over a month. The Sindh Food Department had set up check posts in the interior Sindh to curb the free movement of grain to Karachi.
He attributed the price increase to a rise in the open market rates for 100 kg wheat flour bags—which are now selling for Rs7,800–8,000, up Rs7,200 from the third week of May—as well as rising transportation costs due to a Rs119 per litre increase in diesel rates in the last month.
Karachi, being a non-wheat producing area, has been facing a wheat crisis since the start of the wheat procurement season. He said the millers in Karachi could not afford to sustain any delay in the arrival of grain from the interior Sindh.
He added that the Sindh Food Department had only given millers hollow assurances about the restoration of free wheat movement to Karachi from interior Sindh but no practical steps had been taken.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Flour Millers Association (PFMA) had requested that the food department either completely stop wheat supply from Sindh areas to Karachi or ensure full availability of the grain. “This cat and mouse game by the food department may result in any untoward situation in the coming days, such as a stoppage of flour supply to the megacity. In this situation, the food department would be responsible,” the PFMA said.
Last month, the association urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to allow free movement of wheat and wheat products to ensure availability of the basic food item at a reasonable price.
“Flour mills also purchase wheat from the open market along with government agencies. There should be no ban on the purchase of wheat by millers,” PFMA stressed.