Infographics by Kapil Kashyap A
n overall surge in prices of some of the key food ingredients such as tomato, potato and onion (TOP) and spices like chilli and cumin made a significant impact on prices of an Indian thali in July. Rising sharply for the third month in a year, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis saw sharpest jump in their prices in this year.
Average cost of a vegetarian thali spiked 28 percent to Rs33.7 in July, making it the most expensive in this year so far, based on an analysis by Crisil. In June, average cost of a vegetarian thali was Rs26.3. Of the 34 percent rise in the average cost of a vegetarian thali, 25 percent or one-fourth is contributed solely by the price of tomato. Prices of tomato jumped 233 percent from Rs33 per kilogram in June to Rs110 per kg in July. Compared to previous year July, tomato prices rose 200 percent.
Prices of potato and onion, which are key in Indian cooking, also surged 16 percent and 9 percent respectively in July from month earlier. Chilli cost 69 percent more in July while cumin prices also rose 16 percent, but since these items are used sparingly or in low quantities, their cost contribution to the overall thali cost remain lower.
Meanwhile, pace of the non-vegetarian thali cost was at a slower pace as prices of broiler poultry is estimated to have declined 3-5 percent in July. In a non-vegetarian thali, broiler poultry contributes around 50 percent of the cost. A two percent fall in price of vegetable table oil also controlled overall rise in cost of both the thalis.
Also read: How tomato price spikes impact India's food inflation
While rice, wheat, pulses, milk, and sugar prices continued on an uptrend; vegetables – that held down inflation in the past few months – also rose sharply in July, according to the daily prices published by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The average cost of a thali is calculated based on input prices prevailing in north, south, east and west India. The data also reveals the ingredients (cereals, pulses, broiler poultry, vegetables, spices, edible oil, cooking gas) driving changes in the cost of a thali.
“Factors other than the monsoon have been increasingly shaping food inflation. These include extreme weather events, domestic policy and geopolitical developments. Food inflation can be high even when the monsoon is normal,” says Crisil.
The concern on food inflation is evident in the pre-emptive steps the government is taking, such as banning some types of rice exports, imposing stocking limits on wheat, and market intervention to improve supplies.