On Monday, December 9 2019, the average retail prices of onion in Vijayawada touched Rs 250 per kilogram, the highest among metros. Given that an urban household on average spent Rs 178 per month to buy vegetables, many households may be forced to omit onions as a part of their diet.
The average price of onions was Rs 101/kg in 24 cities till December 9, 2019. In Pune, the average price was as high as Rs 140/kg, while a year ago the peak price was close to Rs 23/kg.
Onion prices by city
Eating into the budget
An urban household in India spends on an average Rs 1,618 per month on food and Rs 178 on vegetables. As onions are selling a Rs 101/kg on an average in urban areas, even purchasing a kilo of them will consume 57% of a household's vegetable budget that month. The table lists the % share of expenditure on onions of the total food and vegetable budget. For instance, an average urban household has to spend 25% of their food budget to but 4kg of onions.
A costly affair
On September 29, 2019, the Centre prohibited onion exports to bring down the prices. Between April 2019 and October 2019, India exported 95.56 cr. kg of onions, the lowest for the period since 2015. The chart considers the April to October period.
Similarly, India has scaled up onion imports, though nowhere near the levels seen in 2015. Most imports then and now were from Afghanistan. In 2019, a significant share was from Egypt.
Sources: Horticulture Board, NSS survey on consumer expenditure 2017-18, Commerce Ministry