The government is set to stop the selling of unpacked soybean oil in a bid to ensure consumers are not getting other edible oils in the name of soybean oil, officials said.
Responding to the industries ministry's request for opinion, which was sought early this year, the Ministry of Commerce now agreed that such a plan can be implemented to save consumers from being cheated.
According to central bank data, the country's annual edible oil import is around 2.2 million tonnes of which 70 per cent is palm oil and 30 per cent is soybean oil.
However, Bangladesh Tariff Commission's analysis found that soybean oil is sold in the market more than its total imports.
The officials said presently palm oil is sold in unpacked format while soybean oil is sold both in packed and unpacked format. They predict that dishonest traders cheat consumers by selling palm oil in the name of soybean oil.
The Ministry of Industries, earlier this year, had sought opinion from the Ministry of Commerce whether a provision can be introduced that no more soybean oil should be sold at market in unpacked format.
As soybean oil will be sold in plastic packs and PET bottles only, it can be easily differentiated from palm oil. The soybean oil will be sold under a brand name and mandatorily have certificate from the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI).
PET stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate and is usually used for the manufacturing of plastic bottles for liquid or beverage consumption.
Palm oil, on the other hand, will only be sold in unpacked format.
A senior commerce ministry official told the FE the price of soybean oil had been spiralling earlier this year, and so the ministry had requested the industries ministry to introduce the new provision when the prices go down.
He said introduction of all-packed/PET bottled soybean oil will involve price hike of the item to some extent at the consumer level.
"In some cases consumers are buying palm oil but are forced to pay soybean oil's price," said the official.
Contacted Wednesday, Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana told the FE currently only 35 per cent soybean oil is sold in PET bottles while the rest 70 per cent in unpacked format.
"The private sector is shy to cooperate with us," she said.
Ms Sultana said the ministry will sit with the stakeholders next week again to bring the edible oil sellers under compliance.
"After that some strict decisions can be taken to enforce the plan," she added.