Soaring fruit, veg prices squeezing household budgets: Survey

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on July 29, 2011 Published on July 29, 2011

Around 55 per cent of lower and middle class families have been forced to skip intake or squeeze budgets for fresh fruits and vegetables because of skyrocketing prices in recent past, according to Assocham Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

The maximum impact was felt in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune, a survey has revealed.

The survey was conducted from April to June 2011 in which over 1,000 housewives and about as many employees participated. Around 65 per cent respondents were in the age group of 25-29 years, followed by 30-39 years (26 per cent), 40-49 years (16 per cent), 50-59 years (2 per cent) and 60-65 years.

During the last three years, the salary of average common man has gone up 10-15 per cent while the prices of fruits and vegetables have shot up 100-115 per cent.

The relatively affordable tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, lady’s finger and potatoes, basic ingredients in most Indian meals, are slowly going out of even the reach of the middle class family as prices continue to soar.

Seventy-eight per cent female respondents said they have switched over to pre-cooked and ready-to-eat food items to cut down on expenses. On the other hand, 67 per cent of vegetarians said they face bigger problems due to steep increase in prices of vegetables and fruits.

Almost 86 per cent of the respondents said that rising food prices had made their life even tougher.

Rising inflation has forced the middle class to curtail spending. More than 52 per cent of employees said that they shell out between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 on vegetables and fruits itself. About five years ago, this expenditure was one fourth of it, they added.

A majority of respondents said that they prefer to buy veggies in bulk instead of every day.

“Rising prices of fruits and vegetables have upset budgets of middle and lower income classes, particularly of those below the poverty line,” Ms Bhagyesh Soneji, Chairperson, Assocham Gujarat Council, said. Any change in diesel prices immediately impacts prices of food items, since most are sourced from far-off places.

Even the humble pulses, or ‘daal’, have become luxury. Forty-five per cent executives said they now prefer to have it once a month as prices have doubled in the last two years. Low-income groups and people under-35 said that they are increasingly cutting back on the nutrient-rich snacks they can no longer afford.

Published on July 29, 2011
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