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Sombre mood prevails before Diwali

By Dilip Kumar Jha
October 12, 2017 12:51 IST
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Popular sweetmeats are costing a staggering 35% more on spike in sugar prices, veggies are up due to intermittent rainfall the past one week

With the Supreme Court banning the sale of firecrackers in the Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) and the Bombay high court doing the same in Mumbai, costlier vegetables and sweets have dented the festival mood of the common man ahead of Diwali.

Vegetables and sweets have become costlier by around 35 per cent.


While sweets have become costlier due to a spurt in the price of sugar and labour costs, intermittent rainfall over the last week has made vegetables costlier.

“The government has levied the goods and services tax (GST) on sweets, which has forced us to raise prices. Thus sweets have become costlier this festive season,” said Ramesh Soni, owner of Bikaner Sweets and Farsan.

This festive season, kaju katli is selling at Rs 800 a kg, a rise of 33 per cent from Rs 600 a kg last year.

Similarly, sweet sellers are selling laddus and malai barfi at Rs 200 a kg and Rs 500 a kg, respectively, an increase of 25 per cent over the last year in both categories.

Interestingly, prices of raw materials that go into the making of sweets have not risen in a similar proportion.

Data compiled by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution showed sugar prices in the wholesale markets are hovering around Rs 40 a kg, a marginal increase of 6.7 per cent over the last one year.

Sugar in the retail market, according to the ministry, is quoted higher by a mere 5 per cent to trade at Rs 42 a kg. Milk and wheat prices have risen 5.6 per cent and 5.9 per cent to Rs 38 a litre (in pack) and Rs 18 a kg, respectively.

Wheat flour prices have also risen by 11 per cent to trade at Rs 25 a kg in retail markets, data compiled by the the Ministry of Food showed.

“Owing to the delay in the return of the monsoon this year, it is very difficult to start harvesting sugarcane to commence the crushing season in the second week of October in Uttar Pradesh.

The scenario in Maharashtra is no different. Hence, sugar prices are likely to remain firm in the next three or four weeks,” said Praful Vithalani, Chairman, All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA).

Meanwhile, continuous rainfall for the last one week has resulted in difficulties in harvesting of vegetables.

Farmers have halted harvesting of vegetables amid fears of quality deterioration and high spoilage due to too much moisture.

Data compiled by the government-owned National Horticulture Board showed brinjal to have become costlier by 39 per cent at Rs 25 a kg in the wholesale Vashi mandi.

Similarly, cauliflower has become dearer by 72 per cent in just one week to trade currently at Rs 31 a kg.

“There has been a drastic decline in vegetable supplies to mandis due to rain. Farmers are reluctant to harvest due to fear of spoilage.

Consumers will have to live with high vegetables prices for at least two or three weeks,” said Ram Gadhave, president, Vegetables Growers’ Association of India.

Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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Dilip Kumar Jha in Mumbai
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