Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

How India Eats: Heat, unseasonal rains, virus infestation push veg thali prices higher in June

Tomato prices surged 30 percent in June due to virus infestation caused by extreme heat. Also, unseasonal rainfall in March meant reduced potato yield

Published: Jul 5, 2024 11:31:08 AM IST
Updated: Jul 5, 2024 12:08:51 PM IST

Adverse weather conditions, especially in the last few months, have continued to accelerate the rise in food prices. Frequent cases of heatwaves, unseasonal rains, late arrival of vegetables and lower yields due to plant infections have taken a toll on key food items like tomato, onion and potato (TOP).
In June the average price of a home cooked vegetable thali surged by a whopping 10 percent (year-on-year) to Rs 29.4, mostly due to a sharp rise in TOP cost, as per Crisil MI&A Research estimates. The same vegetarian thali cost Rs 27.8 in May showing an increase of 6 percent month on month.
Tomato prices surged 30 percent YoY in June due to a virus infestation in the summer crop. High temperatures in the key growing regions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh caused a virus infestation which dragged tomato arrivals by 35 percent year-on-year. Similarly, prices of onion and potato also shot up 46 percent and 59 percent (YoY) respectively in June. 

A significant drop in Rabi acreage led to lower onion arrivals while there was a decline in the potato crop yield due to unseasonal rainfall in March. Potato and onion prices have risen considerably during the April-June period, by over 80 percent. For potato most of the increase in prices was after the harvesting period.
The vegetable price spiral is seasonal during summer months, when the harvesting period nears its end. However, this year particularly, the TOP items saw significant volatility, and the steepening trajectory intensified during April-June period which coincided with heatwave alerts issued by India Meteorological Department (IMD), says Bank of Baroda.

Also read: How India Eats: Veg thali continues to pinch hard, cost of non-veg one falls again in May
Adverse weather conditions also had their impact on other essential food items such as rice and pulses. A dip in acreage, resulting in subdued arrivals, led to a 13 percent year-on-year increase in the price of rice while a dry spell in the key kharif months impacted production of pulses. Cost of pulses jumped 22 percent (YoY) in June. The price of rice accounts for 13 percent and pulses 9 percent of the vegetable thali.
The average cost of preparing a thali at home is calculated based on input prices prevailing in north, south, east and west India. The monthly change reflects the impact on the common man’s expenditure. The data also reveals the ingredients (cereals, pulses, broilers, vegetables, spices, edible oil, cooking gas) driving changes in the cost of a thali.


Also read: Rain Watch For June 27 To July 3: Monsoon Picks Pace, Low Water Level Risky

The good news is the non-vegetarian thali got cheaper but only on a year-on-year basis. Lower broiler cost dragged non-veg thali  prices lower by 4 percent (YoY) in June to Rs 58. The same thali cost Rs 60.5 in May last year. Broiler chicken prices fell by an estimated 14 percent YoY on a high base of last fiscal, coupled with an oversupply situation and lower feed cost on-year.
However, on a month-on-month basis, non-vegetarian thali prices increased 4 percent due to elevated vegetable prices. There was an estimated 1 percent  month-on-month increase in the cost of broiler, which accounts for 50 percent of the non-veg thali cost.
(Forbes India's monthly series 'How India Eats' takes a look at how the average price of a food plate in India changes every month, indicating the impact on the common man's expenditure, by analysing the Indian thali.)