Consumers at price crossroads after Peshawar government fixes vegetable prices

Consumers at price crossroads after Peshawar government fixes vegetable prices

On November 5, the district administration of Peshawar in Pakistan reduced vegetable prices amid food inflation but consumers see no respite.

At a  glance, fixed onion prices fell to Pakistani Rupees 120 ($0.43) per kilo. The prices of white and red potatoes also depreciated to Rs90 ($0.32) and 130 ($0.47)  respectively. 

Sources around the district, however, say that tomatoes and lemons still attract 20% and 50% markup respectively above the prescribed prices. While the district fixed the price of tomatoes at Rs180 ($0.65), the market sells them at Rs200 ($0.72). The same applies to Chinese lemon, costing up to Rs160 ($0.57) a kg, above the Rs100 ($0.36) official maximum. 

Among groceries, condiments that define south Asia cooking such as ginger and garlic have attracted the widest price disparity.  Thai garlic in Peshawar still sells up to Rs1300 ($4.67) a kg, 58.5 % above the Rs820 ($2.94) set price. 

While Pakistani garlic should now sell at PKR380 ($1.3) a kg, it retails instead at Rs450 ($1.62). This is similar to Chinese garlic which is accessible at Rs650 ($2.63) instead of Rs530 ($1.62) per kg.

Fruit prices in the district have also fallen marginally but no one knows when traders will adhere to the price ceiling. Grapes ought to now sell at Rs320 ($1.15), banana at Rs110 ($0.39) and apples at 250 ($0.90) per kg.

Live animals have also attracted a 5-rupee reduction in price. The city’s consumers can now buy live fowls for Rs350 ($1.26) per liveweight kg from the previous Rs355. However, market investigations show that customers still purchase live chicken at the existing traders’ price of Rs420 ($1.51) per kg. 

Peshawar is one among the main cities in Pakistan including Karachi and Islamabad that set consumer trends.

This update on vegetable prices in Pakistan coincides with a national inflation slowdown. Consumer inflation in October grew marginally to just 28.89%, lower than in October 2022.  Inflation is now more than 10 points down from the peak in June and July 2023 when it had hit a record 37.97%.

To tame consumer prices, the government in Islamabad had to cut down fuel prices and hunt down currency hoarding.