ECONOMY

Potatoes, onions, tomatoes kept veg thali costly in May

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Potatoes, onions and tomatoes kept the price of home-cooked meals rising for the second consecutive month in May, according to a report by Crisil. Vegetarian thali prices rose 8% from a year earlier to ₹27.80 in May. Sequentially, the increase was 1%.Inflation in vegetarian thali was 7.9% in April.

“Lower onion arrivals on account of a significant drop in rabi acreage coupled with a decline in potato arrivals on account of the adverse impact of late blight and crop damage in West Bengal contributed towards the increase in prices,” said Crisil.

Onion prices in May were up 43% from last year, while potatoes had become costlier by 41% and tomatoes by 39%. Besides, vegetables, rice and pulses were also trending higher. Rice, which accounts for 13% of the weight in the thali, witnessed a 13% price rise in May, while the price of pulses rose 21%. Spices also contributed to higher food inflation. “On the contrary, prices of cumin, chilli and vegetable oil fell 37%, 25% and 8%, respectively, preventing a further increase in the cost of the veg thali,” said Crisil.

Food concerns

Meanwhile, the cost of non-vegetarian thali was down 7% from last year, as broiler prices declined 16% from the previous year. Retail food inflation had increased to 8.7% in April compared with 8.5% in the previous month.

Vegetable inflation was a high 27.8%, whereas pulses and products experienced 16.8% inflation in April. Experts indicate that inflation will likely stay elevated in May, with heatwaves in parts of the country contributing to higher inflation levels. “The intermittent heatwave conditions in most parts of the country are impacting the supply of vegetables, which in turn is driving up prices. We estimate vegetable CPI inflation remained elevated at 26.4% in May, although it has come off in the past few months, helped by a high base,” said Shreya Sodhani, regional economist, Barclays.



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