Breaking previous records, onion prices on Saturday touched a new high of ₹160 a kg in the wholesale market in Chennai. The vegetablewas priced up to ₹200 a kg in some retail markets and has sent household budgets haywire. Hotels too are finding it increasingly difficult to manage on their budgets.
The steady dip in arrivals to the Koyambedu wholesale market has resulted in a further jump in the price of onions. Shallots too are priced at ₹170 a kg.
Customers were in for a further shock as drumsticks hit a whopping ₹400 a kg. Traders noted that the arrival of drumsticks dipped during November and December. But this time, the prices have gone through the roof, they said.
A kg of onions was priced between ₹120 and ₹160 in the wholesale market on Saturday, depending on the area from where they were sourced from — Bellary in Karnataka; Nashik in Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh. The arrivals have dropped to 25-30 truckloads a day from the three States, particularly Maharashtra. The produce is being diverted to other areas where better prices prevail, traders said.
P. Sukumar, treasurer, Koyambedu Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers Merchants’ Welfare Association, said the market usually got 80 truckloads of onions in December. But this has dropped to less than half this time. “Imported onions from Egpyt have not reached Chennai yet in large quantities, and are not of good quality. “We expect prices to drop only around Pongal, when fresh crops are harvested,” he said.
Beans too have become costly, and are priced between ₹50 and ₹60 a kg. Traders are now on the lookout for produce in Ranchi, as yields have dropped in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Hoteliers are finding it difficult to replace onion in their dishes. “Raitas, chutnies and gravies cannot be made without onions. Ours is a vegetarian restaurant and somehow, we are managing with half the onions required. We don’t have onions in raitas and chutnies, but gravies and kurmas still require them. Some restaurants don’t serve certain dishes anymore. There are some non-vegetarian restaurants that have even shut shop,” said a hotelier.
Members of the Tamil Nadu Hotels’ Association said not just onions, but prices of dals, oils and drumsticks too have gone up. “Every day, the price of onions and dals is climbing.There seems to be no respite from the rise,” said a city hotelier.
Keeping prices in check
The State government is contemplating selling onions through ration shops, in a bid to keep the vegetable’s market price in check, Food Minister R. Kamaraj has said.
Addressing the media in Mannargudi, he said the steep escalation in the price of onions was essentially due to production taking a hit on account of the rain.
Once the imported onions land in Tamil Nadu, they will be sold at ration shops, he said.