The next time you reach out for those Washington apples or Australian oranges, you may want to think twice. The price of imported fruits has shot up, thanks to the weakening rupee.
Imports have become more expensive, and fruit-sellers said, sales have dropped. Compared to last month, the price of imported fruits including apples, oranges and kiwis is up by 20-30 per cent. If the rupee continues to fall, importers said they would be severely affected.
Ravi, a resident of Perambur, said that several fruits had become more expensive than they were last month and some of them were not even of good quality.
“I have started buying local varieties of fruits that are slightly cheaper to stay within my budget,” he said.
Traders at the Koyambedu wholesale market said that the market has had dull sales over the past few days as the cost of several fruits has gone up. S. Srinivasan, a wholesale fruit trader said that the cost of bananas had gone up due to fewer yields in the Tuticorin and Cuddalore regions.
E. Loganathan, who imports apples, said that Chennai gets its fruits from Australia, USA, Chile and China.
“We have to shell out Rs. 300-Rs. 400 for every box containing 18 kg of apples. Our importing and storage costs have escalated considerably. We take a cut in our profits, as we just cannot pass on these costs to traders,” he said.
The toll on imports, he said, was evident as up until June about 30 containers were imported to Chennai every week, but this has now dropped to a barely a few a week.
Ramakrishnan, another importer, said that importers had taken to selling fruits at lower rates to traders in order to clear their stock.
Another blow to household budgets has come from rising rice prices. Traders said that over the past 15 days, the price of first quality rice has gone up to Rs. 56 per kg.
“The reason we are given by suppliers is that there is demand in Karnataka from where we get a considerable quantity of rice and therefore, prices here have gone up. The lowest quality rice is Rs. 34 per kg but that is not soft when cooked,” said G. Rajesh, owner of Rajeshwari Stores in Velachery.
M. Krishnakumar, a resident of Ashok Nagar said that he was shocked to see that the rates of rice had gone up again.
“I have some old stock left so I am not going to buy any rice immediately. But if this trend continues, rice might touch Rs. 60 per kg by the time I buy it,” he said.
Pulses also hit
The prices of pulses, which began increasing in January, seem to have reached a plateau over the past few weeks.
“The rates have been increasing due to a reduction in the yield of dhals. Erratic power supply has also caused dhal mills to rely on diesel for generators, which also pushes up costs,” said A. M. Vikramaraja of the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peravai.
The increase in rates of dhal has led to consumers cutting down on consumption.
“I don’t have time to go to the wholesale market and have to depend on the local store. So my family has cut down on dhal consumption. Instead of buying 4 kg of thoor dhal a month, I buy 3 kg and don’t make sambar as frequently as I used to,” said Shyamala Ravi, a resident of Thiruvanmiyur.