Usually a staple fruit in most households, buying bananas now will burn a hole in the pockets of consumers. For the first time in over five years, the prices of the fruit have hit record highs.
At wholesale markets in Bengaluru, the yelakki variety has been priced at ₹65 per kg, while retail prices have crossed ₹90 at several places, including HOPCOMS.
It has also crossed the ₹100 mark on online platforms. This trend is expected to continue for at least the next six months as arrivals in the markets have taken a drastic hit.
While the regular arrival of bananas at the Binny Mill Banana Market was over 250 tonnes a day, it has now come down to 90 to 100 tonnes. The traders say that the supply crunch occurred as many farmers gave up on cultivating bananas as they received some of the lowest prices ever for the crop during the two years of COVID-19.
“The prices during the last two years were mostly just 25% of the average rates. That is why farmers chose not to grow bananas this year, which obviously led to lower arrivals. Due to this, between March and now, the prices have doubled,” said K.G. Purushotham, president, Banana Fruits Merchants’ Association.
Apart from the yelakki variety at ₹60 to ₹65 at the wholesale markets, the robusta variety is at ₹20 to ₹23 per kg. The nendra variety is ₹55 to ₹60, while the chandra variety is at ₹40 to ₹45. Mr. Purushotham added that the current prices are 50% more than the average price for around seven years.
“The arrivals from neighbouring States have also reduced this season. The arrivals from Tamil Nadu are mostly diverted to Kerala as it is a bigger market than we are. Robusta on the other hand has to come only from Andhra Pradesh as our State’s production is only 10 to 15%. However, those arrivals are also less,” he explained.
“When bananas arrived here, they used to come in big trucks. Now we only see smaller pick–up trucks at the markets,” another trader said.
The prices will not come down anytime soon as bananas are annual crops and a new cycle of cultivation is only expected to start early next year. Most traders say that the price surge is going to continue throughout the chain of festivals which are going to come up and maybe a few months after that.
But Horticulture Department officials disagree. The total cultivation area of the bananas has remained close to 1.3 lakh hectares only in the recent few years, their data shows. “When it is banana season, the prices fall. Now the arrivals are a little less as most farmers have prepared their crops to be harvested during the festive season. Maybe for a month the prices will be more and then arrivals will increase and the prices will stabilise,” said K. Dundi, Additional Director (Fruits), Horticulture Department.
Both traders and department officials said that post the peak pandemic period, an increase in the number of weddings and other functions also led to an increase in demand for bananas.
But for those, who cannot have a complete meal without the fruit, the increasing prices is not good news. “Three days ago, I bought yelakki bananas for ₹80 per kilo and today (Monday), I had to pay ₹90 for the same. Since we consume the fruit on a daily basis, I think we will switch to the lesser priced robusta variety for a while,” said Kaveri, a resident of Vigyan Nagar.
Mango prices have also seen a hike in the last three days
Although mangoes arrived late to the markets this year and experts had said that they would be available till mid–August, traders are saying that the season is almost over.
“The demand is still high for mangoes. But the arrivals from Ramanagaram and the surrounding mango growing areas have now almost stopped, which is why the prices have picked up in the last three days,” said a manager at a HOPCOMS stall.
Price of mangoes at HOPCOMS
|Variety||Price per kg (June 17)||Price per kg (June 20)|