New Delhi: Rising prices of essential kitchen items like potato and pulses pushed food inflation closer to the double-digit mark at 9.13% for the week ended 17 September, a development which finance minister Pranab Mukherjee termed as “grave".

A shopkeeper arranges pulses for sale. Photo: AP

Food inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), was 8.84% in the previous reporting week.

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As per the commerce ministry data, prices of onions eased marginally, while gram, masoor, arhar, urad and poultry rates firmed up, on an annual basis.

“Food prices are an area of major and grave concern," Mukherjee said.

As per the WPI data, inflation in eggs, meat and fish eased to 13.17% during the week as against 28.7%, year-on-year. While onion prices were down to 17% from 22% last year, potato prices rose 15%.

Experts said the food inflation may decline only later this year.

“We hope that inflation number will come down during November-December period due to a larger base effect," Standard Chartered Bank senior economist Anubhuti Sahay said.

KASSA India director Siddharth Shankar said, “Global slowdown and RBI’s tight monetary policy will keep a cap on the non-food inflation numbers."

Non-food articles, which include fibres, oil seeds and minerals, recorded an inflation of 12.89% during the week ended 17 September, down from 17.42% in the previous week.

Meanwhile, inflation in the fuel and power segment rose to 14.69% during the week ended 17 September. In the previous week, it was 13.96%.

Headline inflation, which factors in manufactured items, fuel and non-food primary items, in addition to food commodities, stood at a 13-month high of 9.78% in August.

The RBI has already hiked policy rates 12 times since March, 2010, to tame demand and curb inflation.