Bangladesh’s wheat imports climbed nearly 30 percent to more than 2.1 million tonnes in the July to October period from a year earlier, food ministry data showed, with traders expecting the same pace in the coming months.
The South Asian country has emerged as a major buyer of rice and wheat after floods destroyed its latest crops, sending staple rice prices to record highs that prompted many to switch to flour.
This upwards trend in imports will continue until end of this year, said a Dhaka-based wheat importer.
“What we are seeing is that there is a robust demand in the domestic markets as many people are switching to flour given the high prices of staple rice,” he added.
Traditionally the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, Bangladesh’s rice imports are set to hit their highest levels in a decade as the government races to shore up depleted stocks and combat high prices.
“I am buying more flour and less rice these days to cope with the situation,” said Raqib Hasan, a private sector employee and the sole earning member in a family of six.
“We used to eat rice three times a day. .. now we are taking only one meal with rice.”
Bangladesh imported 5.8 million tonnes of wheat in the year to June 2017, making it one of the world’s biggest importer of the grain.
Bangladesh has turned to the Black Sea region for wheat as supply from India dwindled to meet growing demand while the country’s output has stagnated at around 1 million tonnes.
The government has bought 200,000 tonnes of wheat in an inter-state deal at $252 a tonne from Russia, which is set to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest wheat exporter this year.
Bangladesh also buys smaller quantities of high-quality Australian and Canadian cargoes for blending.