Eating is daily business, eating Beef has become refined Business and selling Beef is good business. Simple rules they are, to keep with them is a win-win for each quarters.
A simple shift in meat market dynamics however has disrupted the equilibrium on all sides of exporters, importers and buyers alike.
As a result, the popular meat item is virtually invisible across shops in town.
Two things prominently and painfully at play here lead to the prevailing state of ‘beefy’ affairs.
Meat vendors have stopped beef imports since a month back due to high import prices in the border areas and the stable selling price in Thimphu.
The prices of meats were set by the Trade Ministry in 2010 and it has not been revised for two years irrespective of whether meat prices in India increased or decreased.
The price of a beef per kilogram costs Nu 130 in India and the vendors currently have to sell it at the same price inclusive of transportation charges and taxes.
Meat vendors say they have run into huge losses.
Almost all the meat vendors have stopped importing beef and they said that they will have to stop importing until the trade ministry hikes the price of beef.
More than 35 Thimphu meat vendors approached the Trade department, to request an increase in the price of beef commensurate to the rates in India.
“The prices of pork, chicken, fish and mutton has not changed in India but the price of beef has increased radically,” Yakthub meat owner, Shahbir, 32 said.
Earlier a kilogram of beef was Nu 107 and was comfortable for vendors to import it and sell at Nu 130 after paying all necessary charges.
Shahbir said that after the Indian Rupee (INR) crisis in the country price of beef increased as the demand for beef is higher than any other meat.
Ugyen Wangdi, 24 also a meat vendor said the price of beef in border areas is higher than the price they sell in Thimphu due to which they are running shop on huge losses.
He said the shop has to stop importing beef hereafter if the price is not revised by the Trade Ministry.
Few months earlier when the price of the beef shot up in India, nine vendors without prior notice to the Trade Department sold beef according to their own rates and they were penalized Nu 10,000 for violating the Trade convention.
A Trade official said the vendors were penalized on grounds of hiked meat prices without approval and also for not displaying the prices.
The official said that the vendors had increased prices without informing the Department about the hike in India.
Sam Jana meat shop owner Dolley Rai, 42 said they were compelled to increase the price since the cost of beef in India increased to Nu 130 per kg.
He said that it was a severe loss for the vendors to import beef at the cost of Nu 130 per kg from India and sell in Thimphu for Nu 115 per kg. He added that the meat vendors in Thimphu sell at a very low rate compared to other dzongkhags.
Vendors shared that the price of beef in other dzongkhags is higher than Thimphu. A kilogram of beef in Paro cost Nu 150 and the vendors said that nothing was done to the meat vendors of Paro for such price hikes.
They stressed on the need to increase prices in Thimphu since there is always a huge demand for beef.
Records with the Bhutan Agricultural and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) show that about 2,817.120MTof beef was imported in 2010 and 3,523.614MT in 2011.
The vendors have approached the meat committee that approves and manages meat prices and a meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow (September 14).
“If there is an increase at source, the prices will increase after undergoing a thorough investigation and studying the situation,” a member from the Meat committee said.