Consumers expect rise in prices; dieticians stress need for balanced diet

COSTLY BASKET

Summer is still a few days away. But, many fruits are already priced around Rs.100 a kg, forcing people to give a second thought before purchase.

Consumers like B. Chitra of Villivakkam say they buy cheaper varieties to cope up with the increasing cost of the fruits. “I get to buy only a handful of pomegranates or apples, grapes for Rs.100-Rs.200. Even the cheapest variety of bananas cost Rs. 4-5 each,” she said. Others have cut down on their fruit consumption claiming the price is unaffordable. Guavas, which are usually affordable, too cost up to Rs.60 a kg.

However, wholesale fruit traders in the Koyambedu market said that many fruits cost lesser now compared to last year. This winter season was another reason for the reduction in consumption.

Murugesan, a wholesale trader, said that the market received more apples from Kashmir this year. But, apples imported from abroad are cheaper. But, apples from China and New Zealand would cost more as import duty on them has been increased.

Though fruits are sold at nominal rate in wholesale markets, they are priced at least 20 per cent more in retail shops as they have add transportation charges. S. Srinivasan, president, wholesale fruits commission agents association, said that this year, people could gorge on water melons as they are priced as low as Rs.10 per kg. This seasonal fruit is likely to come at cheaper rate as summer approaches.

At present, the Koyambedu wholesale market receives 100-150 lorries daily. Traders expect the prices to escalate in summer as the demand would double while the supply will remain the same.

Mr. Srinivasan said that the city has started getting first batch of ‘Sendura’ mangoes. “We expect the cost to go up by 20 -30 per cent in summer months,” he said.

Meanwhile, nutritionists warn that cutting down on fruit portion in diet would mean loss of fibre and natural anti-oxidants. Meenakshi Bajaj, medical nutrition therapist, Institute of Diabetology, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said that on an average, an individual needs to add 100-200 grams of fruits to theur daily diet. Even diabetics need 100 grams a day. Avoiding fruits would lead to heart diseases, obesity related problems and gall bladder stones. Fruits help children develop immunity. “People must watch out while buying apples and grapes as they may come with a wax coating. It is best to eat locally available fruits,” she said.

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