Affording a relief of sorts to the common man, food inflation eased a tad to 18.65 per cent for the week ended December 12 from 19.95 per cent a week ago, in keeping with hopes of some respite from soaring prices in the coming months.

Essentially, although the wholesale price based index of food articles has dipped by 130 basis points during the second week of December, the cool-off is only in the rate of price rise as the prices of essential food commodities such as potatoes, other vegetables and pulses still remain quite high.

However, as projected by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Wednesday at the annual session of the PHD Chamber, food prices are likely to ease some more from January onwards. “The real source of upward pressure on prices is really due to what is happening in foodgrains and vegetables, particularly potatoes. Some rise in price due to increase in MSP [minimum support price] was justified… but during the past three months, what we saw [food inflation] was beyond that. There is an element of speculation and prices would hopefully ease in January,” he had said.

Since last year, potato prices have surged by over 115 per cent while pulses have turned nearly 42 per cent dearer.

During the week, however, even as the index for food articles saw a decline on account of a fall in the prices of fruits and vegetables by two per cent, wheat by five per cent, bajra by four per cent and spices and tea by one per cent each, the inflation for primary articles — including food, cereals and fuel — rose to 14.66 per cent. Aiding the rise was vegetables which as a category turned dearer by 37.97 per cent. Alongside, among pulses, the price of moong went up by two per cent and the coarse cereal jowar by one per cent.

As for some non-food items, tobacco prices surged by a massive 33 per cent while raw cotton and raw rubber were costlier by six per cent and four per cent, respectively.

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