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Prices of toiletries shoot up

Consumers feel the pinch

October 07, 2018 00:00:00

Toiletries fill the shelves at a department store at Mirpur in the city — FE Photo

Yasir Wardad

Prices of toiletries have shot up in recent months, burning a hole in the pocket of limited income group.

Almost all types of soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, detergent and toilet cleaners saw a price hike of up to 27 per cent at retail markets over the past few months.

Many manufacturers have also reduced the quantity of their product packs to adjust the prices, according to grocers.

Though some manufacturers cited the growing production costs as a reason behind the price hike, consumer rights activists strongly rejected the claim, saying that the import costs of raw materials of some products have even come down.

Prices of Lux beauty soap, weighing 100 gram, a product of Unilever Bangladesh, have increased to Tk 34 from Tk 30 and its 150 gm pack to Tk 45 from Tk 42 at the retail level over the last few months.

Lux is the most traded beauty soap in the country, having a 45 per cent market share, according to the Bangladesh Cosmetics and Toiletries Manufacturers' Association (BCTMA).

The price of Unilever's wheel brand, a market leader in cloth washing powders, soared to Tk 42 from Tk 35 per 500gm pack at the retail level.

The price of Rin, a detergent brand of the Unilever and one of the most chosen fast-moving consumer goods brands in the country, increased by 26.3 per cent per kg.

The price of mini-pack (20 gm) of Surf Excel, another detergent brand of the company, increased to Tk 5.0 from Tk 4.0, said Md Zaman, a sales executive of Mohammadpur-Dhanmondi-based NBS Distribution.

The price of Harpic, a product of Reckitt Benckiser Bangladesh (RB Bangladesh) and a market leader among toilet cleaners, increased to Tk 100 from Tk 85, registering a 17.6 per cent hike.

The price of Dettol soap (75 gm), another product of the company, went up to Tk 36 from Tk 32.

Kohinoor Chemicals Co has increased the price of one of its products-Sandalina beauty soap-by Tk 1.0 and Tk 2.0 for its 75gm and 125gm pack respectively, according to grocers.

Prices of shampoo (mini pack) of Head & Shoulders, Pantene, All Clear and Dove brands, have also increased by Tk 1.0 per mini pack, said Md Belal Hossain, a grocer at Shankar, West Dhanmondi, in the city.

Sunsilk (mini pack) shampoo of Unilever is still priced at Tk 2.0 but its new pack now weighs 6.0 millilitre, which was 7.0ml earlier, he said.

A 50gm toothpaste tube of Close-Up brand, a Unilever product, was priced at Tk 35 few months back.

But the company has now been supplying a 45gm toothpaste tube and the price has been fixed at Tk 40 -- a nearly 27 per cent hike in real term.

The price of 100gm toothpaste tube of Pepsodent (pro-sensitive) brand was Tk 80 a few months ago, but the company is now supplying a 90gm toothpaste tube with the price tag of Tk 90 -- an increase of 25 per cent.

Also, the costs of dish, glass and bathroom cleaners and hair oil increased during the period.

The price of Parachute Hair Oil (200 ml), a product of Marico Bangladesh Ltd., increased to Tk 120 from Tk 108.

When contacted over mobile phone and email, Unilever Bangladesh media manager Ahsanur Rahman said that they need more time to make any comments.

But this FE correspondent didn't receive any more feedback from the company as of Saturday, even after a wait for seven days.

However, Reckitt Benckiser Bangladesh declined to make any comment on the issue despite repeated attempts.

Company secretary of Kohinoor Chemical Co. Md Ferdows Jaman said they raised the price of Sandalina soap by 4.0 per cent following an increase in production cost.

The company has revised the price after three years, he added.

The company has 17 per cent of the market share for cosmetics and toiletries in the country.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said toiletries and homecare products are now considered daily essentials.

The rising prices of toiletries at such a high rate will definitely hit the commoners, he said.

He also said adjusting prices for inflation and the increased production costs is justifiable.

"But the companies have raised the price of their products to an unprecedented level this year," he commented.

He said the import duty on soap and detergent ingredients like soap noodle, surfactant, enzyme stabilizer and polymer has not been increased in the current financial year, rather the government has reduced import duty on many items.

The commerce ministry should look into the issue to protect the interests of the consumers, he said.

The robust growth of the cosmetics and toiletries sector over the last 18 years has turned it into one of the vital money-spinning areas with an annual turnover of approximately Tk 150 billion, according to BCTMA and Bangladesh Cosmetics and Toiletries Importers' Association (BCTIA).

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