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Doubles vendors absorb hike in channa price

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hundreds of doubles vendors across T&T have been paying higher prices for channa (chick peas) during the last six months.

However, they have been absorbing that cost and not passing it on to the consumer by raising their prices. There are assurances today that wholesale and retail prices will be reduced in the coming weeks. Officials at one of T&T's largest import grain operations said with the recent price hike, which was estimated to be between 30 per cent and 40 per cent, "businessmen including doubles vendors have been taking the hit for the last six months."

Customers moved from paying between $4 and $4.50 per pound for the small-grain channa, to paying between $5.50 and $6.50 per pound.

Operating for more than 40 years, officials at the St Augustine-based company said the last major price increase in doubles occurred in 2015, two days after Finance Minister Colm Imbert presented the 2015/2016 budget. Doubles moved from $4 to $5.

The senior manager of the company, which is importing all edible grains and other produce in bulk to be repackaged and sold locally, said over 75 per cent of our chick peas comes from Canada and Argentina."

Although they purchase chick peas from producers in the US and India as well, the official admitted external market influences sometime determined the price at which channa and other grains would be sold locally. Chief among them is the weather.

He said "if the crop in Canada and Argentina was good and the yield was as they initially anticipated, you will find that local prices will remain stable or even drop."

Over the last six months "the crop in Canada failed so that drove up the prices internationally and locally," the official said.

He confirmed this was responsible for the increase in the price of channa in the local market during the last six months.

Estimating that by mid-April, "prices will drop," the official revealed that business owners had a particular pricing structure they utilised when purchasing goods which included minimum and maximum base figures.

He said doubles vendors had something to look forward to, "as they will soon start to benefit as the prices are set to fall."

Along with channa, red beans was also said to have cost consumers about 20 per cent more during 2017.

The official said the price of red beans was also expected to fall in the coming weeks. Consumers can expect savings on other grains as well.


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