With vegetable prices going through the roof, many people have begun scaling down the quantity of vegetables that they purchase.
Traders at the Koyambedu market said the cost of vegetables has doubled in the past two years. The price of even relatively cheaper ones, including cabbage, has shot up.
Residents said most of the vegetables are priced at Rs.20 a kg at the retail market. Many of them manage with the seasonal vegetables and buy cheapest among the produce sold.
R. Kavitha, a resident of Ayanavaram, said, “I spend about Rs.300 for a week's supply of vegetables. I don't have a choice than to cut down on portions of vegetables and fruits that I purchase. It's been a few months since I stopped buying carrots, beans and green peas. Salads have become almost luxury now.”
Hoteliers also struggle to meet their end as they cannot increase the price of the dishes. M. Ravi, president of Tamil Nadu Hoteliers Association, said the cost of vegetables and fruits has been on the rise for the past one year. “The profit margin has undergone a drastic cut as the food cost has doubled in the past few months. Many restaurants and small hotels face the danger of closure as they are unable to cope with the sky-rocketing cost,” he said.
The mounting wholesale price has had severe impact on the retail market.
Brinjals priced at Rs.20 a kg in wholesale market cost Rs.30 in retail shops. Vegetables such as beans (Rs. 54 a kg), carrot (Rs.45 per kg) and broad beans (Rs.44 a kg), have become out of reach of common man. Green plantains cost Rs.5.50 each.
However, onion, one of the stable vegetables, is priced at Rs.17 a kg in retail market. Mobile vegetable vendors feel the pinch as they have to shell out more money for the same quantity of produce and their profit margin has become very low.
S. Chandran, a trader at Koyambedu market, said the substantial decrease in agricultural lands and escalating transportation and labour charges have reflected on the productivity and widened the gap between growing demand and supply. The transportation charges increases by 10 per cent every year.
Normally, the market receives 400 trucks of vegetables daily. But, only 300 truckloads of produce arrive at the market due to low yields. Each truck has a capacity of carrying a load of 8-10 tonnes, he said.
Though customers say fruits have become expensive, traders say the price has not increased much compared to last year. S. Srinivasan, a fruit merchant at Koyambedu market, said though arrivals of mangoes are less this year, many customers preferred not to buy them out of fear of artificial ripening.