New Delhi: Life in the four metros across the country is getting tougher for poor and middle class consumers as their budget for grocery and other food items have shot up almost 40% in the past one year.
The maximum surge in food prices was seen in the national capital, followed by Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, as per the analysis of the retail price data of 14 essential items maintained by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
“Ideally, there should not be much difference in prices of food items across metros,” farm scientist M S Swaminathan told PTI.
Increasing purchasing power of consumers coupled with mismatch in supply-demand are pushing prices through the roof in all four cities, he said, adding that the volatility in global food prices is spilling over on domestic rates.
According to the data, retail prices of onion, gram, rice, sugar, groundnut oil and vanaspati ruled highest in Delhi among all metros as on 1 April.
Ficci secretary-general, Amit Mitra, said: “Delhi is worst hit because it does not have a connected hinterland for food supply. With the rise in oil prices, logistic and transportation costs are fueling the food prices further...”.
Besides, the changing food habits on account of rising income has also catapulted the spike in prices, he said.
In the national capital, prices of edible oils and pulses shot up 20-35% in the past one year. Groundnut oil rose to Rs121 a kilo on 1 April in Delhi compared to Rs92 a kilo in Kolkata, Rs91 in Mumbai and Rs78 in Hyderabad.
Prices of the politically sensitive items such as onions remained highest in Delhi Rs10 a kilo at the beginning of the month.
Meanwhile, in the financial capital Mumbai, wheat, atta and sugar prices surged the most. Wheat rates rose 24% to Rs 15.5 a kilo compared to other metros.
In south India, where rice is the staple food, prices have a shot up over 40% despite Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu being the largest producers of grain in the country.
Rice in Chennai has become costlier by Rs4 a kilo.
HDFC Bank chief economist Abheek Barua said, “Food items are priced at higher levels in metro cities because of better buying power of people”.
Whether in smaller cities or big metros, there would always be a local variation in prices, he said, adding the spiralling prices are hitting hard on the people who are living on the edge in metros.
Of the 14 food items analysed, mustard oil and milk prices rose highest in Kolkata compared to other cities.