Milk prices rise but farmers see little benefit
Although processed milk prices are rising at the retail level, farmers still see no benefit as there is no sign of an increase on their end.
The higher cost of animal feed and other inputs, including transportation, has inflated fluid milk prices in different areas of Dhaka city. On average, half liter packs of dairy product are now sold for Tk 45 while a one liter pack costs Tk 80, up from Tk 7 and 10, respectively.
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Consumers say the rising costs of all essentials coupled with the new milk price has put additional pressure on them at a time when most are still recovering from the fallout of the pandemic.
Traders say two companies raised the price of fluid milk about a week ago, while sales representatives from all the remaining major processors said they would soon follow suit.
Aarong Dairy currently sells each liter of pasteurized milk at 80 Tk whereas previously it was at 70 Tk. Similarly, the price of the company’s half-litre packs has risen from Tk 38 to Tk 45, said Ratan Mia, owner of Jewel General Store in the Rupnagar district of Mirpur in the capital.
Pran Dairy, a Pran-RFL Group company, has raised the price of its one-litre UHT milk packs from Tk 70 to Tk 80, while half-litre packs of the product now cost Tk 45 instead of 40 Tk before.
The retail price of Milk Vita and Farm Fresh liquid dairy products remained unchanged, but some retailers warned they would also raise prices soon.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, Marketing Director of Pran-RFL Group, said the cost of producing milk has risen significantly due to rising feed, labor and other costs.
“In this context, it will not be possible for the company to survive by selling milk at the previous rates.”
Feed prices have risen by 50-100% in the past six months, with the cost of soybean meal and maize rising by 30-40%, said Mohammad Shah Emran, secretary general of the Association of Bangladeshi dairy farmers.
But although milk prices have increased at the retail level, prices have changed little at the farm level, where producers only earn an additional 1-2 Tk per liter sold.
Rajab Ali, a dairy farmer on Zoo Road in Mirpur, sells milk directly from his own farm with 25 cows. He said that the prices would be revised upwards soon.
The price of salt, cracked rice and other livestock feed ingredients has increased by 50-70%. Also, workers could previously be employed for around Tk 8,000 per month, but even Tk 15,000 is too less for them now, he added.
Md Rafiqul Islam, managing director of the Bangladesh Milk Producers’ Co-operative Union Ltd (Milk Vita), says that although it has not raised prices yet, different calculations to that end are underway.
“We are working on how to reduce the cost of production. If we cannot reduce the cost of production and if we are forced to increase it, we will keep the increase reasonable.”
Akbar Ali, a resident of Kalyanpur in the capital, earns a salary of Tk 25,000 as a private employee.
Before the recent rise in the price of basic necessities, he could manage two eggs and 250 grams of milk for each of his two children, aged three and one respectively, every day. Now they only get one egg a day while the milk only comes every other day.
“They will suffer from malnutrition if this continues, but what can I do? Ali asked.
Traders also say the price of powdered milk increased by 60 to 70 taka per kilogram last week, according to the supply company. The price will rise further, they added.
DAIRY COMPANIES DEPRIVE FARMERS OF FAIR PRICES
Md Al Amin, a milk producer from Faridpur Municipality, said that Pran Dairy buys its milk between 43 and 50 taka per litre.
“But even though production costs have increased over the past two months, the price we receive has remained the same,” he added.
Amin delivers 80 to 100 liters of milk to the Pran Dairy collection center every day.
Echoing the same, Saiful Islam, secretary of the Pabna District Milk Producers Association, said milk producers are not getting expected prices.
“Dairy farming has become expensive as feed prices have soared to 200 taka per bag over the past month, while the cost of grass has also increased as it has started to rain,” he said. he added.
Md Shariful Islam, head of Pran milk collection center in Baghabari region under Shahzadpur upazila of Sirajganj, said that since the supply is steady, they currently have no plans to raise prices from the farmers’ side.