Cost of food eased moderately in September as prices of key items such as tomato, chilies and fuel for household cooking declined. However, onion prices stayed elevated in the month, while overall food-led inflation started to cool off.
The average cost of a vegetarian thali was Rs27.9, declining 17 percent in September. One had to shell out Rs33.8 for the same thali the previous month, based on an analysis by Crisil. Tomato prices, which contribute majorly to the cost of a thali, got cheaper by 62 percent in September. Tomato cost Rs39 per kg spiralling down from Rs102 a kg in August.
A vegetarian thali was 1 percent cheaper in September compared to the same month the previous year. Cost of onion prices increased 12 percent month-on-month in September. Crisil expects onion prices to remain firm amid the expected lower output in kharif.
The average cost of preparing a thali at home is calculated based on input prices prevailing in north, south, east, and west India. 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: How India Eats: Thali cost cools off in August, but still steep over last year
For the non-vegetarian thali, the average cost was Rs61.4, falling 9 percent in September. It is majorly due to a two to three percent estimated month-on-month increase in prices of broiler as it contributes more than 50 percent to the total thali cost. This, however, compares to a non-veg thali price of Rs61 in September the previous year.
Cost of household cooking fuel declined 18 percent month-on-month in September. Price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder fell to Rs903 from Rs1,103. Fuel cost accounts for 14 percent and 8 percent of the total cost of vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis, respectively.
Overall, prices of chillies also provided some relief by cooling off 31 percent month-on-month.
The latest inflation data of August shows food price-led inflation eased to 9.9 percent from 11.5 percent, driven by vegetables inflation at 26.1 percent, cereals inflation at 11.9 percent and pulses inflation at 13 percent, cooling off a bit compared to the previous month. Crisil expects a correction in vegetables inflation in the coming months, but some rigidity in cereals and pulses inflation.
After surging to 37.4 percent in July, vegetables inflation softened to 26.1 percent in August. Vegetable prices fell by a seasonally adjusted 7.9 percent month-on-month after a rise of 28.9 percent. Tomato inflation eased to 180.3 percent from 202.1 percent. 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.