LAHORE - The rates of kitchen items particularly of wheat flour and pulses went up owing to suspension in supply amidst rains and depleting stocks of imported varieties, as the wheat prices ramped up from Rs 2,650 per 100kg to Rs2,950, a huge rise of Rs3 per kg in two weeks. Resultantly, the rate of wheat flour also went up and 10kg of packed wheat flour of high quality brands were selling at Rs350 while other brands were available for Rs315 per 10kg.Traders say wheat prices were up due to increased global prices on concerns in production in drought-hit US, Brazil and Argentina, coupled with constant exports from Pakistan. They said that prices of major pulses, including Moong, Masoor, Mash and Gram increased due to strong demand along with less supply from local side.Experts said that during the last week of August wheat prices continued to go up, as 100kg of the staple food fibre touched Rs2,850 per 100kg, wheat dealers said. But several flour millers insisted that this was the price quoted for truckloads of the commodity and those who wanted to buy it in lots of 100kg were paying up to Rs2,950. The unending cycle of increase in flour rates continues to pose severe hardships for the lower and underprivileged segment of the population already reeling under rampant inflation. Traders and millers have blamed the upward revision in prices of all varieties of flour on rampant increase in wheat rates.Some three weeks ago during the holy month of Ramazan, wheat prices were well stabilised at Rs 2,600 per 100 kgs bag, but immediately in the post-Eidul Fitr period it started surging at an alarming rate spurred by commencement of export of the commodity due to its high demand in the international market.As a consequence of unabated increase in wheat rates, Chakki flour prices have also surged to the level of Rs 38 to Rs 39 per kg as compared to the previous rate of Rs 36 to Rs 37 per kg.A 5kg bag of Chakki flour, which was earlier available in the retail market at Rs 180, after the fresh increase, is now available to buyers at Rs 195 for the same weight.The surge in the rates of one of the most essential commodities has served as a severe blow to a major segment of the population, who can’t afford any increase in flour rates and as a consequence an across-the-board decline was registered in the demand of all varieties of flour. A leading retailer of the commodity at Mozang Bazaar blamed increasing transport charges for the upward revision in flour prices, claiming that unbearable prices of petroleum products had a negative impact on almost all essential kitchen items.According to trade sources, in Akbari Mandi, wholesale prices of Moong and Masoor (washed) rose up to Rs9,700 per 100kg of each from Rs9500. Prices of Mash (washed) went up to Rs13300 per 100kg from Rs13000 and prices of Gram pulse of premium quality rose to Rs10400 per 100kg from Rs10200.Wholesalers say that they earn just one rupee per kg profit. Sometimes the profit is even smaller and often we barely cover the cost,” they added, blaming the rupee depreciation and storage expenses. But traders, who are actively engaged in imports, observed that higher international prices were also responsible for significant hike in local rates of pulses.