Since the lockdown, there has been a shortage of beer, be it Druk 11,000 or Druk Lager, in the country. The shortage or limited stock has led to hike in prices with a case of beer now costing Nu 950 to Nu 1000 while it used to be Nu 750 before the lockdown. Due to the hike, small restaurants are suffering.
One of the main liquor distributors in Thimphu said that they have run out of stock for more than a week right after the lockdown and two days ago they managed to get 60 cases of beer. He said that maximum customers chose Druk 11,000 over Druk Lager.
The stock may not even last for few days, however, they are expecting a truck load in the days to come, he added.
He said, “We have been impacted badly by the pandemic and lockdown further added to it. When we do not have liquor in stock we lose our customers.”
He further added that they have to charge Nu 50 to Nu 100 higher than the usual price as they get the items from the other shops and not from the factory.
There are more than 50 main liquor distributor in the country, he said, adding that the other shops (wholesalers) tend to get the beer directly from the factory in the name of liquor distributors. In doing so, they charge high prices during such crisis whereby the blame and enquiry comes directly to those who own a distributor license, he alleged.
He said, “So the concern authority should know this and monitor things accordingly. We end up in difficult circumstances when things are done by non-distributors.”
Another 28-year-old, owner of a wine and liquor (wholesaler) said, “We have no beer in stock since the lockdown and are having difficulty in paying rents.”
She said, they tried to go around in every liquor distributor but some charge very high while some give only to those who they are close with. They managed to get few cases at Nu 900, however, it is not convenient to sell due to high price. They sold at Nu 950 and have got complaints from customers.
They called the factory directly and they were told that for now they are distributing to those liquor agents in the country who have paid the amount in the month of June and July. “So, probably we might have to wait for another few weeks. We are in dire need of beer to sustain our business. Otherwise, we might have to close our shop until the situation gets better,” she added.
Dawa, who runs a restaurant in CFM market, said that they are selling beer at Nu 90 per bottle as they are buying at Nu 950 per case. “I thought not to buy at that rate but without beer, we get no customer. For few days, I had to open my shop without beer and I noticed that I could earn only Nu 1,000 in a day,” he added.
He said that they have no idea on why there was a hike in price and therefore they would be grateful if the concerned authority can look into it for the restaurants to be able to sustain.
The paper talked with few other restaurants and they share the same issue and concern.
Meanwhile, an official from OCP said that they have received complaints on price hike of a beer and for now they are assessing the price in each jurisdiction and reason why there was a price hike.
“We are also looking into why the price was increased and what made the dealers do so. We will also see if the price was increased from manufacturer. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to maintain a supply chain,” he added.
The Manager of a beer factory at Pasakha Tenzin Thinley said that they could not manufacture beer during lockdown and that has lead to shortage of beer in the market. They produce 3 to 4 lakh cases in a month.
He said, “Whatever we have in our stock has been distributed to agents in the country. We have started distributing beers starting 10 September. The pandemic has impacted our business in many ways.”
About the pricing, he said that they have not increased a single penny on the product and they have been distributing the product at the same rate. They have no idea on why there was a price hike on beer in the market, he added.
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