February Food costs: Vegetable food prices up 7% over last year, but still hit an 8-month low

Non-vegetarian plate costs grew 4% over January level as broiler prices surged 10%: Crisil report

March 08, 2024 05:19 pm | Updated 05:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A scene at wholesale market Azadpur Mandi, in New Delhi. File

A scene at wholesale market Azadpur Mandi, in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Vegetarian food prices rose 7% in February, driven by a spurt in onion and tomato prices, even as non-vegetarian plate costs dropped 9% from a year ago, as per rating agency Crisil’s monthly report on food plate cost called ‘Roti Rice Rate’.

The report, which serves as a signal of inflation trends in consumer food prices ahead of the official retail inflation numbers, noted that onion prices were up 29% and tomato prices by a sharper 38%. The prices of rice and pulses, which account for 21% of the cost of a representative home-cooked vegetarian food plate as per the firm’s calculations, also rose 14% and 20%%, respectively.

“The decrease in the cost of the non-vegetarian thali was due to a de­cline of around 20% year-on-year in broiler prices on a high base of last fiscal,” Crisil Market Intelligence and Analytics said in the report. Broiler prices account for about half of the cost of a non-vegetarian Thali.

However, on a sequential basis, vegetarian food plate costs dropped 2% from January levels to hit ₹27.5, their lowest level since July 2023. Non-vegetarian plates were 4% more expensive on a month-on-month basis, rising to ₹54, as broiler prices rose an estimated 10% from January due to lower supply.

The firm attributed this to “the spread of bird flu in Andhra Pradesh and increasing temperatures, as well as rising demand” ahead of Ramadan.

“The cost of the veg thali eased [from January] due to a decline of 14% and 3% on-month in prices of onion and potato, respectively, while prices of tomato and pulses remained flat,” said the report, which computes the average cost of preparing a Thali (food plate) at home based on input prices prevailing in north, south, east and west India.

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