London: Eating out in an Indian restaurant in Britain has become a more costly experience due to a 75% increase in the price of basmati rice during the last financial year.
The increase in the price of basmati rise is attributed to increased consumption by India’s burgeoning middle class, and reduced exports from the subcontinent.
Several Indian restaurants in London, Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford have revised their price lists to reflect the rising cost of the premium rice variety.
According to Alex Waugh, director of the London-based Rice Association, rice prices were up by 60% during last year and the price of basmati, one of the most popular varieties in the UK, had almost doubled since 2005.
In Leicester, the price of basmati went up in January from £15 (Rs1,165) for 20kg to £20.
Latest rice industry estimates say that there has been “very strong growth in demand for basmati within India as a growing and wealthier middle class upgrades to basmati from ordinary long grain”.
The situation has been exacerbated by the appreciation of the rupee, the figures from the Rice Association show. The appreciating rupee has increased the cost of imports from India.
A large proportion of demand in the UK is for aromatic rice, especially basmati.
Basmati prices leapt between 35% and 50% during the time of harvest, depending on the variety, and have continued to climb so that they now stand 70-75% above 2005levels.
Prices in Pakistan have risen in a similar way. According to the Office of National Statistics, consumers now pay about 5.5% more for their food than what they did a year ago.