“Some traders whose business is weak tend to hike prices”
CHENNAI: Rama M., a homemaker in R.A.Puram, was rather shocked to see her bill from the grocery store this month. It was quite a jump from her total bill amount in March.
“I went through each item and later found that the price of rice has gone up.” Though a section of customers have observed this rise in prices, a few others, many retailers and wholesalers maintain that there has not been any increase in the price of both raw and boiled rice.
No increase in wholesale prices
According to M. Jayapalan, vice-resident, Red Hills Paddy and Rice Wholesale Merchants Association, there has been no increase in wholesale prices of rice recently.
“The wholesale rate of raw rice is Rs.28. Seasoned raw rice is only a few rupees more. It may be the best variety of rice that a retailer is selling, but Rs.42 is certainly overpricing it,” he says.
Speaking of wholesale rates of boiled rice, he said it ranged from Rs.27 to Rs.34 a kg.
“More than a three rupee-margin is unfair. Even we are into retail sales, but we do not price it so high,” Mr.Jayapalan adds.
P. Adiswamy of Balaji Traders, a wholesale outlet in Kothawal Bazaar, also says raw rice is priced from Rs.26 to Rs.32 per kg at his wholesale store, while boiled rice is sold for Rs.16 to Rs.28. “Retailers will modify their prices depending on their business. Some traders, whose business is weak, tend to hike the prices like this. It is very unfair to the customer,” he says.
Cost of overheads
While some retailers say it is the rise in cost of overheads that is forcing them to increase their margin on products, many say that the price of rice has not gone up in the wholesale market.
Abdul Khader, owner of K.M. Hygienic Super Market in Alwarthirunagar, says he has priced raw rice from Rs.32 to Rs.36.
“Boiled rice is available from Rs.28 to Rs.40. The Rs.40 rice is of a very superior quality,” he says.
Fearing that he may lose regular customers, Mr. Khader says he has opted for a low margin on essential commodities such as rice. “But the wholesale price of dal has gone up and I had to hike the retail rates a bit.”
At Ramesh Stores in Mylapore, raw rice is priced from Rs.36 to Rs.38 and boiled rice from Rs.22 to Rs.38, says owner K. Suryaraj.
Wholesalers, however, say that the price of dal has gone up by about Rs.5 to Rs.8 per kg and this could soon reflect in the retail market.