With prices of vegetables, meats and seafood shooting up, residents are eating less and haggling more

Summer is when pickles are made in most homes. Tomatoes, lemons and chillies used to be sold for a song, and were perfect for pickling. Not any more.

“Every year at this time, I would buy about 3 kg of tomatoes for Rs. 10 and make two sets of pickles. This week, one kg of tomatoes costs around Rs. 40. It is simply not affordable anymore,” said K. Jayanthi, a resident of West Mambalam.

Prices of vegetables have shot up this month, with the relentless sun and lack of rain affecting crop yields in States that traditionally send their harvest to the city.

While the cost of the commonplace ginger has more than doubled from Rs. 80 to Rs. 200 per kg, prices of other vegetables such as carrots and beans have also risen.

Over the past few days, the Koyambedu market has received only 3,500 tonnes of vegetables daily, as against the usual 4,500 tonnes.

Traders said the city gets ginger from Kerala, Mysore, Gudalur and West Bengal. “We receive only 30 tonnes of ginger daily, while the demand is for about 60 tonnes,” said S. Chandran, a wholesale merchant.

The hike in transportation charges has also added to the cost of vegetables, he said.

While some residents have decided to shop at the Koyambedu wholesale market for slightly better deals, many others are cutting down on consumption.

Kavitha Kesavaram, a resident of Mahalingapuram, said, “A bunch of coriander costs me Rs. 15 now. Earlier, I used to get it free with the curry leaves and other vegetables. I also spend double the usual amount on frozen seafood.”

Kitchen gardens have come in handy for some. S. Praveena, a resident of Korattur grows tomatoes, bitter gourd and greens in her garden. “I save around Rs. 30 a week,” she said.

Fish, chicken cost more

Fresh fish too, has become more expensive due to the 45-day ban on mechanised boat fishing. “The city consumes around 100 tonnes of fish a day, but the catch has fallen by 60 per cent. This past week has been bad for non-mechanised boats too, as the sea was rough after cyclone Mahasen,” said a fisheries department official.

Non-vegetarian residents are now seeking solace in eggs. According to M. Ashok Kishen, assistant manager, National Egg Coordination Committee – Chennai, around 50 lakh eggs are sold in the city daily and this number increases by 5-10 per cent during the ban season, which translates to an increase of between 2.5 lakh and 5 lakh eggs a day.

“The retail price of eggs varies from area to area. Though the ideal retail price is Rs. 3.25 per egg, it is Rs. 4 at supermarkets. The city gets eggs from Namakkal, Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Bellary,” Mr. Kishen explained. Of the 50 lakh eggs sold, estimates reveal that 10 lakh eggs are consumed in bakeries, hotels and Tasmac bars.

Other meats too, have become more expensive. The price of chicken has gone up from Rs. 170 per kg last month to Rs. 210 per kg this month. Though mutton has remained at Rs. 400-450 per kg for sometime now, not many people buy it because of the high price.

Commodity Price in May Price in April

Ginger Rs.175 Rs.80

Tomatoes Rs.35-40 Rs.30

Carrots Rs.40 Rs.35

Beans Rs. 70-80 Rs. 60-70

Eggs Rs. 4 (each) Rs. 3.25 (each)

Prawns Rs. 400 Rs. 250

Nethili fish Rs. 180 – 200 Rs. 100-120

Seer fish Rs. 700 – 800 Rs. 650

*Retail prices in kg

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