Large egg producing firms have increased the price of eggs through price manipulation through commission agents and by using their own appointed agents in the auction process. This information has emerged in a report of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP).
The price of eggs in the country started increasing from August 9 and on August 13 the price reached the ‘highest’ level in the country’s history.
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Generally, the wholesale traders sell each egg at a profit of 15 to 20 paisa, but last August 9 to 13, they made a profit of 2 taka 70 paisa per egg.
It said that through price manipulation in the case of eggs and live chicken, some big firms and middlemen have benefited, but hundreds of marginal farmers and ordinary consumers have suffered.
It also said that due to increase in fuel oil price, transportation cost per egg has increased by 3 to 4 paise. On this occasion, dishonest traders have increased the price of eggs by 2 taka 70 paisa. And consumers have been cheated as traders do not keep purchase and sale receipts and do not display price lists in business establishments.
Due to the sudden and abnormal increase in prices, the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection conducted raids on the establishments involved in the trade of eggs and broiler chickens across the country from August 18 to 24. The report was prepared by the organization under the Ministry of Commerce based on various information obtained from that campaign.
The report, signed by the director general of the organization AHM Safikuzzaman, was sent to the Ministry of Commerce on August 30, recommending appropriate action against the individuals and organizations involved in the manipulation.
After increasing the price of fuel oil, recently the price of eggs has increased from 30-40 taka per dozen to 160 taka in some places. However, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data, eggs were sold at Tk 120 to Tk 125 per dozen in the retail markets of different areas of the capital on Wednesday.
According to the Consumer Rights Protection Directorate, egg business is being conducted without necessary receipts and documents in different parts of the country.
The agency said in the report, regardless of the purchase price of eggs, egg trading associations destabilized the market by fixing prices on mobile phones at that time.
“Traders are selling normal eggs at higher prices by falsely declaring organic eggs and sealing the eggs themselves. And some traders inflated the price of live chicken by showing fake transactions (keeping fake receipts) among themselves’, the report noted.
The report also raised questions about the legitimacy of egg traders’ associations.
It said that on August 22, a meeting was held at the FBCCI office with all those involved in the egg trade. There, Kazi Farms, Bidder Faisal and Tejgaon Egg Traders Multipurpose Cooperative Society came out in the discussion as clearly responsible for the increase in the price of eggs.
According to the report, on August 24, the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection held a meeting in its meeting room with people involved in egg producers, sales representatives, dealers and egg traders’ associations. Earlier, during a visit to Kazi Farm on August 23, officials of the Department of Consumer Rights Protection directed their registered agents to attend a meeting in their office on August 24. But, no agent was present in the meeting.
Kazi Zahin Hasan, director of Kazi Firm, said in the meeting that Faisal Traders owner Faisal did not come to the meeting due to physical illness. Faisal participated in the auction process in accordance with the rules and did not commit any wrongdoing.
However, according to the report of the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection, Kazi Zahin Hasan tried to hide Faisal’s involvement behind the increase in the price of eggs.
It is also said that on the same day, Faisal appeared at the office of the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection and said that he is healthy. He requested to open his business saying that he will be careful in future. Kazi Firm has proved its involvement in unethical activities by concealing information in this regard without presenting Faisal.
On August 24, DNCRP Director General AHM Safikuzzaman said in a discussion with poultry traders at the central office of the Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar, that a section of the egg and poultry sector has “manipulated” and increased the price abnormally on the pretext of increasing the price of fuel oil. ‘
After the consumer rights campaign, supervision of various government agencies and Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi’s announcement that ‘eggs can be imported’, within 2 to 3 days, the price of eggs started to fall. Within 1 week the price dropped back to the previous price.
When asked about this yesterday, Kazi Farms Director Kazi Zahin Hasan told The Daily Star, ‘Some are claiming that the prices of eggs were raised by fixing the price of eggs through syndicates and the prices fell after the government officials visited the wholesale egg market and fined the traders. But, this is not correct. Some also alleged that the price of eggs was fixed by Kazi Farms in connivance with Tejgaon Egg Traders Association or other poultry companies. This is also not true.’
Kazi Farms sells 10 to 12 lakh eggs per day through sales centers in Dhaka, Sylhet, Rangpur, Faridpur and Bogra. Eggs are auctioned at each centre. All the major poultry companies collectively sell about 4 million eggs per day, which is about 10 percent of the total eggs sold in the country. So there is no way to increase the price of eggs even if the poultry companies want to,’ he said.
Kaiser Ahmed, managing director of Diamond Egg Limited, one of the largest producers and marketers of eggs, told the Daily Star, “The Consumer Rights Protection Department is claiming that the big firms have colluded and increased the price of eggs. But, that is not logical.’
Recommendation of case against Kazi Farms Ltd
The National Directorate for Protection of Consumer Rights in its report has recommended the Bangladesh Competition Commission to file a case against the firm, stating that ‘Kazi Farms Limited has destabilized the market by increasing the price of eggs through unreasonable auctions through their agent Faisal’.
It has also been said that in the case of eggs and live chicken, the storage of printed receipts (ripe receipts) with the name and address of each buying and selling person or organization in the market system must be made mandatory. The practice of fixing prices from cooperative societies should be abolished.
The report also recommended that the presence of various government agencies (National Directorate of Consumer Protection, Directorate of Livestock, Government Intelligence) should be ensured in the auction process.
The organization’s recommendation also mentioned that the sale of packaged and organic eggs at excessive prices and taking appropriate action against those concerned.
President of Bangladesh Egg Producers Association. Tahir Ahmed Siddiqui said that about 3.5 to 4 crore eggs are required to meet the national demand of the country. A large portion of these eggs come from farms across the country.
According to the information of the Directorate of Livestock, 2 thousand 335 crore eggs were produced in Bangladesh in the financial year 2021-22. Egg production has increased more than 3 times in the last decade.
Egg prices have recently fallen following a drive by the Consumer Rights Protection Department and the government’s announcement that ‘main sources of protein will be imported if necessary’.