Rising fuel cost, supply shortage send vegetable prices soaring

Makeshift shop: A trader selling vegetables out of an autorickshaw.

Makeshift shop: A trader selling vegetables out of an autorickshaw.   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

Cost at retail stores up by 10-20% this week; increase in wholesale rates expected

Disruptions in supply chain and a continuous rise in fuel prices have sent retail vegetables prices soaring in the city.

Residents of various suburbs noted that most vegetables were priced at a minimum of ₹40-50 per kg in retail stores. The price of tomatoes suddenly surged to ₹70 a kg in some areas this week. Similarly, potatoes were also priced around ₹50. Onions and cabbage were among the very few reasonably priced ones.

R.P. Sundari, a resident of Anna Nagar West, said even pushcart vendors were selling at different prices. “Tomatoes cost anywhere between ₹55 to ₹70 a kg in our area. We avoid buying beans and broad beans as a kilogram costs above ₹60. For two people, we spend ₹250 on a quarter kg of four-five vegetables every two or three days,” she said.

With meat and fish shops closed during the lockdown, people who consume non-vegetarian food have shifted to a vegetarian diet. This has also led to a spurt in demand and price hike, traders said. Divya Prasanth, of Mogappair, said, “Vegetables are expensive now. But I am saving money as meat and fish prices sky-rocketed since the start of the lockdown.”

Wholesale traders in Thirumazhisai market said fewer arrivals were one of the main reasons that pushed up the prices by 10-20% this week. Moreover, distance of travel for retailers and rise in transportation charges, because of the hiked fuel cost, have also added to the surge. Tomatoes sold for ₹20 a kg now cost ₹30 at the wholesale market. Potatoes were now priced ₹27 a kg. Capsicum and green chillies have jumped to ₹60 and ₹40 a kg respectively.

D. Rajasekaran, president, Federation of All Traders’ Associations of KWMC Periyar Market, said retailers travelled an additional distance of minimum 30 km to Thirumazhisai and the wait was six to seven hours longer.

“Semi-retailers in Koyambedu market have not been allotted shops yet. This has led to a missing link. Retailers, who otherwise bought required quantity, have to buy in bulk and bear the cost of wastage. This is why the wholesale variations do not often reflect in retail prices. For instance, wholesale price of beans and broad beans dropped to ₹30 and ₹15 on Tuesday,” he added.

The wholesale prices were expected to soar as farmers may cultivate less after repeated losses over the past few months, traders added.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:29:14 AM |

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