Price hike: Atta, baked goods, bread, cookies all the way up

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Wheat flour or Atta, the most commonly used food in Indian cuisines, is seeing a massive price spike, so much so that rates have hit a decade high. The monthly average retail price of wheat flour across India stood at Rs 32.38 per kg in April, the highest since January 2010.

ATTA PRICE THROUGH THE ROOF

According to data from the State Civil Supplies Departments of the Union Ministry of Consumer Food and Public Supply, the average retail price of wheat flour across India was 32.78 rupees per kg last Saturday.

A year-on-year price analysis shows that the average retail price of wheat flour across India increased by 9.15% over the past year.

One kilogram of atta cost Rs 30.03 per kg a year ago. The price rose to Rs 32.78 per kg this year.

Among the 156 centers for which data is available, Saturday’s price was highest in Port Blair (Rs 59 per kg) and lowest (Rs 22 per kg) in Purulia in West Bengal.

WHY IS ATTA BURNING A HOLE?

Experts attribute the price hike to a decline in production as well as wheat stocks in the country. While production has fallen in the country, at the same time, demand has increased outside the country.

Among the metros, Mumbaikars pay the highest average price for atta at (Rs 49 kg), followed by residents of Chennai – Rs 34 per kg. In what can be seen as a relief for Delhiites, they pay the least for atta at Rs 27 per kg.

The data shows that the average daily retail prices of wheat flour across India have increased since the start of the calendar year. Since January 1, prices have increased by 5.81% since January 1.

RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has led to a decline in wheat production. Russia and Ukraine together account for a quarter of total world wheat exports.

In 2019, Russia’s wheat exports amounted to $8.14 billion, and Ukraine exported about $3.11 billion worth of wheat. With these two countries embroiled in a long, bitter war, the world is grappling with wheat shortages and rising prices.

In the Indian context, citizens are shelling more also due to the higher foreign demand for Indian wheat. The high domestic price of diesel has increased the logistics cost of wheat and flour.

EXPENSIVE BAKED PRODUCTS, BREAD

The rise in prices had a domino effect. Along with wheat flour, the prices of bakery products, cookies and bread have also seen a sharp increase in recent months. Bakery bread retail inflation was 8.39% in March this year, the highest in 7 years.

Britannia, which makes a plethora of bakery items – Jam Jam cookies, Marie Gold, Nutri Choice, fruitcakes, and more. – is expected to increase its prices by 10% in the coming days.

The company has already raised the prices of its products by 10% in 2022.

Britannia Managing Director Varun Berry recently said in a statement that due to the global geopolitical situation, commodity prices (prices of flour, sugar, cashew, laminate and cans corrugated cardboard) had worsened further.

Of the weak wheat production, Berry said, “This is a year where we really have to be on our toes and taking calls on a monthly basis.”

WHEAT PRODUCTION TARGET

The government has set a wheat production target of 110 million tonnes for 2021-22, which is higher than the estimated production of 109.59 million tonnes in 2020-21.

In fact, the second advance estimate, released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare on February 16, pegs wheat production for 2020-21 at 111.32 million tonnes.

Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said last week that wheat production is expected to be around 105 million tonnes. A statement released by the Ministry of Food cited the early onset of summer as the reason for the lower wheat yield.

According to Ministry of Food estimates, wheat supply in the current rabi market season is expected to be 195 lakh tons, which is significantly below the government’s initial supply target of 444 lakh tons and to last year’s actual supply of 433 lakh tonnes.

Data from the Ministry of Food shows that wheat stocks stood at 190 lakh tonnes at the start of the year, which together with purchases of 195 lakh tonnes for the current season, is expected to rise to 385 lakh tonnes.

READ ALSO | Will food prices remain high? How climate change, war is biting us hard


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