KARACHI: Like most commodities, the price trend in dry fruits touched new peak with the start of winters when their demand hikes.
However, rising import figures demonstrate that demand for dry fruits is still strong despite price rise at the domestic level.
In July-October 2010, import of dry fruits and nuts swelled to $28 million (37,372 tons) as compared to $23 million (29,079 tons) in the same period of 2009.
In October, imports stood at $6 million (8,383 tons) as compared to $5.6 million (6,921 tons) in October 2009. The most prominent price hike among all dried fruits is recorded in pine nut (Chilgoza from Afghanistan) at Rs2,400 per kg as compared to 1,200 per kg last year while it was Rs960 per kg in 2008. In 2007, it was priced at Rs 800 per kg.
The rate of Cashew nut (Kajoo of India and Vietnam) has soared to Rs1,000 per kg from Rs800 per kg in 2009, Rs600 per kg in 2008 and Rs520 per kg in 2007.
Salted Pistachio is priced at Rs1,000 per kg as compared to Rs900 per last year, while its price hovered between Rs700 and 800 per kg in 2008 and Rs600 per kg in 2007.
American Almond now sells at Rs800 per kg as compared to Rs650 per kg last while it was available in 2008 and 2007 at Rs560 and Rs480 per kg, respectively. Locally produced Walnut (with shell) can be purchased at Rs300 per kg as compared to Rs200-225 per kg in 2009. In 2008, it was available at Rs120-140 per kg.
Good quality Raisins (kishmish) from local areas of the country is now tagged at Rs280 per kg as compared to Rs200 per kg in 2009, while it was priced at Rs160 per kg in 2008 and Rs120-140 per kg in 2007.
A good quality local dried dates from Sindh carry price tag of Rs400 per kg as compared to Rs300 per kg last year. Medium quality dry dates are now available at Rs200 per kg as compared to Rs80-100 per kg last year.
Peanut has also become costlier. This year a good quality variety is being retailed at Rs240 per kg as compared to Rs180 per kg in 2009. Days have gone when people used to buy a handful of peanut at Rs5 to Rs 10. Now push-cart owners demand at least Rs15-25.
Haji Ghulam Qadir, owner of Kaloo Bhai Shop in Lines Area, said that the devaluation of rupee against the dollar and other currencies in the last few years can be attributed to be the main reason of hike in imported dried fruits rates in the local market followed by fluctuation in prices in world markets.
He said the arrival dry fruits from tribal areas also remained slow as growers did not opt for growing more dry fruits this year due to security situation.
“Due to rising cost of living and surging utility bill cost, people are purchasing them in limited quantities instead of bulk buying a few years back,” he added.
He said there has always been a difference of Rs100-200 per kg between retail and wholesale rates. The hot selling item of the winter season is Salted Pistachio, American Almond, Peanut and Cashew Nut. Peak sale season of dry fruits starts from middle of November and ends by February.