Wheat, key vegetables and edible oils post sharpest price rise in India this year

Retail food inflation rose to 7.47% in March, exceeding the headline inflation rate after many months. Consequently, a clutch of items like potato, tomato, brinjal, chicken and wheat have seen the sharpest price increases.

Inflation in prices of chicken rose by more than 20.74% in March 2022, while the overall food inflation in the meat & fish category was 9.63%. However, inflation in fish and prawn prices witnessed a moderate increase of 3%.

The edible oil and fat category saw inflation at 18.79% in March 2022, mostly contributed by sharp spikes in domestic prices in the last one year. For mustard oil, inflation was 28.66% in March 2022, because of a more than 30% increase in retail prices of commodities in the last one year.

Inflation in refined oil (sunflower, soybean and palm) was 19.16% because of a rise in global prices of edible oil, pushing up domestic prices.

For vegetables, the inflation that rose by 11.64% was mostly driven by commodities such as potato, tomato, brinjal, ladies’ finger and peas. Inflation for potato and tomato rose by 20.42% and 18.54%, respectively in March 2022; onion inflation was at (-) 9.21%.

Trade sources said that the country’s potato output in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) has declined to 53.6 million tonne (mt) from a record output of in 2020-21 of 56.1 mt. Similarly, tomato output has declined to 20.30 mt in 2021-22 from a record 21.18 mt in the previous year. Negative onion inflation in March 2022 was due to a bumper output of 31.12 mt in the 2021-22 crop year against 26.64 mt in 2020-21. Inflation in vegetables such as brinjal, ladies’ finger and peas rose by 27.72%, 11.18% and 11.16%, respectively in March 2022, pushing up overall inflation in the vegetables group.

Inflation in wheat was 7.77%, because of higher prices of commodities compared to last year. In the case of the pulses and fruits sub-groups, inflation was 2.54% and 2.57%, respectively in March 2022. For gram (chana) split, which has share of more than 45% in the country’s pulses production, the inflation was 4.47% in March 2022, while in the case of arhar, inflation was at only 0.26%.

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