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Edible oil, vegetables drive food inflation

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Inflation in prices of chicken rose by more than 13.77% in April 2022, while the overall food inflation in the meat & fish category was 6.97%

As retail food inflation remained above the headline print for the second straight month in April at 8.1%, a clutch of items like tomato, brinjal, potato, chicken, wheat and edible oil saw the sharpest price increases. Inflation in prices of chicken rose by more than 13.77% in April 2022, while the overall food inflation in the meat & fish category was 6.97%. However, inflation in fish and prawn prices witnessed a moderate increase of 3.02%.

Trade sources told FE that demand for poultry meat has been rising steadily since the beginning of the year, while prices have risen because of a spike in feed as well as fuel cost.The edible oil & fat category saw inflation at 17.28% in April 2022, mostly contributed by sharp spikes in domestic prices of edible oil in the last one year. For mustard oil, inflation was 23.09% in April 2022, because of a more than 30% increase in retail prices of commodities in the last one year. Inflation in refined oil (sunflower, soybean and palm) was 19.84% because of a rise in global prices of edible oil, pushing up domestic prices. India imports about 55% of its annual edible oil consumption.

For vegetables, the inflation that rose by 15.41% was mostly driven by commodities such as potato, tomato, brinjal, ladies’ finger and peas. Lemon inflation was more than 66% in April 2022 Inflation for potato and tomato rose by 17.56% and 33.46%, respectively, in April 2022; onion price inflation was at (-) 3.77%.

Trade sources said that the country’s potato output in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) has declined to 53.6 million tonne (mt) from a record output of in 2020-21 of 56.1 mt.Similarly, tomato output has declined to 20.30 mt in 2021-22 from a record 21.18 mt in the previous year. Negative onion inflation in April 2022 was due to a bumper output of 31.12 mt in the 2021-22 crop year, against 26.64 mt in 2020-21.Inflation in vegetables such as brinjal, ladies’ finger and peas rose by 26.56%, 11.13% and 13.22%, respectively, in April 2022, pushing up overall inflation in the vegetables group.“Our food inflation basket is quite diverse and fluctuations in the agricultural commodities prices are mostly decided by production as well as import prices,” an official said. Inflation in wheat was 9.59%, because of higher prices of commodities compared to last year.In the case of the pulses and fruits sub-groups, inflation was 1.86% and 4.99%, respectively, in April 2022.

For gram (chana) split, which has share of more than 45% in the country’s pulses production, the inflation was 2.72% in April 2022, while in the case of arhar, inflation was at only (-) 1.5%.For inflation calculation, price data are collected from selected 1,114 urban markets and 1,181 villages across the country by the National Statistical Office of the ministry of statistics & programme implementation on a weekly roster. Food and beverages have a 45.9% weightage in CPI inflation calculation.

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