Veggies vs. Wallets: The Battle of Rising Prices


New Delhi: The recent surge in vegetable prices, particularly tomatoes, has sent shockwaves across India. Citizens are grappling with soaring costs and severe distress as staple vegetables reach unprecedented price levels in many parts of the country.

According to the ‘Roti Rice Rate’ report released by Crisil Market Intelligence and Analysis on Friday, the price of vegetarian thali has increased due to the increase in the prices of onion, potato, and tomato. According to the Crisil report, the price of vegetarian thali has increased to Rs 29.4 in June this year, whereas it was Rs 26.7 in June 2023. The price of vegetarian thali was Rs 27.8 in May. In this way, the price of vegetarian thali increased by six percent every month. Vegetarian thali includes roti, vegetables (onion, tomato, and potato), rice, dal, curd, and salad.

Red Hot Tomatoes

Tomatoes have taken center stage after their sudden price increase over the past few days. In some parts of Uttarakhand, tomatoes are retailing at a staggering ₹250 per kilogram. Even major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai have seen prices cross the ₹150 per kilogram mark, burdening consumers further. Mumbai, in particular, has witnessed the highest tomato prices, retailing at ₹160 per kilogram. The upward trend is expected to continue until mid-August, when Kharif crops are anticipated to arrive, gradually easing the situation.

Not Just Tomatoes

The price surge isn’t limited to tomatoes alone. Several other vegetables have also witnessed sharp increases in prices over the past month. Here are some notable examples:

  • Cauliflower: Prices have risen significantly.
  • Coriander: Also experiencing a surge.
  • Brinjal (Eggplant): Prices have jumped from ₹40 to ₹100 per kilogram.
  • Green Chillies: Reaching an astronomical rate of ₹170 per kilogram in Delhi and even higher in states like Assam.
  • Ginger: Drastically spiked, with prices ranging from ₹250 to ₹350 per kilogram.

Factors Behind the Price Hike

Traders and farmers attribute this extreme price hike to a combination of factors:

  1. Erratic Weather: Intense heatwaves followed by intermittent rainfall disrupted the vegetable supply chain.
  2. Crop Production: Decreased Rabi sowing of onions and unseasonal rains affecting potato production.
  3. Tomato Arrivals: High temperatures in major tomato-producing areas (such as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh) led to disease in the summer crop, causing a 35% year-on-year decline in tomato arrivals.

While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and government officials dismiss these spikes as transient, analysts argue that structural issues contribute to such instances of rising vegetable prices. The situation demands close monitoring, as it could impact inflation and overall economic growth.