The thali became even more affordable in January

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The cost of a home-cooked vegetarian meal fell 6% month-on-month to 28 last month, while non-vegetarian thali registered an 8% decline to 52, according to rating agency Crisil

Year-on-year, though, the cost of a vegetarian meal increased, whereas non-vegetarian meal became cheaper. 

A typical vegetarian meal includes roti, vegetables (onion, tomato, potato), rice, dal, curd, and salad. The non-vegetarian version replaces dal with chicken (broiler). Despite fluctuating commodity prices, the share of ingredients used for arriving at the prices remains constant.

Crisil attributed the on-month drop in the vegetarian meal’s cost to a 26% decline in the price of onion from December, and a 16% drop in the price of tomato. That was possible because of higher domestic supply of onions amid export curbs and fresh tomato arrivals from northern and eastern states. 

The more significant decline in the non-vegetarian meal’s cost was driven by an 8-10% on-month drop in the price of broiler chicken, which accounts for about half of the meal’s cost.

However, on a yearly basis, the cost of a vegetarian meal increased 5% primarily due to a 35% surge in onion prices and a 20% jump in tomato prices. 

Prices of rice and pulses, contributing 21% to the vegetarian meal cost, rose 14% and 21%, respectively. 

The non-vegetarian meal’s cost fell 13% due to a 26% yearly decline in broiler prices amid higher production. 

Nishant Lakkar, founder and CEO of AAA Rating Consultants and Advisors, said the poultry sector has been facing losses since December and will likely continue this trend. 

This is due to factors like rising bird weights owing to weather conditions, a slight increase in maize prices, and lower realizations. 

Lakkar also mentioned a marginal improvement in realizations around Christmas and New Year, but anticipates the sector to have barely broken even in the December quarter, despite a strong performance in October. 

Prices of rice, wheat, pulses, and vegetables are expected to remain high for the rest of the fiscal year.  

Wheat and rice prices are seen firm due to lower stocks in the central pool, Pushan Sharma, director, research, CRISIL Market Intelligence and Analytics, had told Mint earlier.  

Prices of pulses are expected to rise due to a tight supply situation amid a likely fall in Kharif, or monsoon crop, output and lower acreage in the ongoing Rabi, or winter crop, season. 

Vegetable prices, especially those of tomatoes and onions, will also remain high until new crop arrivals begin. 

The Reserve Bank of India during its rate-setting meeting last month warned of a possible resurgence in food inflation.

The government has been taking several measures recently to rein in food prices as the Consumer Food Price Index, which accounts for nearly half of the overall consumer price basket, rose to 9.5% in December from 8.7% in November. 

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Published: 07 Feb 2024, 01:59 PM IST

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