Food inflation eased a tad to 16.23 per cent for the week ended May 15 from 16.49 per cent in the previous week on account of a decline in prices of food grains.

However, with prices of fruits and vegetables continuing to rule higher owing to the heat wave scorching most parts of the country, the wholesale price index-based food inflation remained above the 16-per cent mark for the fifth straight week. While foodgrain prices have softened following the arrival of rabi crops, a marked decline in prices is now expected to come about only after a normal monsoon rainfall.

Ostensibly, the movement of prices in the coming weeks is being seen as entirely dependent on the monsoon prospects and it was keeping this in view that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had projected overall inflation to be at close to 5-6 per cent by the end of December.

According to Crisil's chief economist D. K. Joshi, food inflation will remain at the current level for some time.

More In: Economy | Business