Thali economics: How food inflation is pinching vegetarian households more, why September promises some respite

Source: The post is based on the article “Thali economics: How food inflation is pinching vegetarian households more, why September promises some respite” published in Indian Express on 9th September 2023

What is the News?

According to a rating firm Crisil, the increase in food prices is affecting both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, with a significant 24.26% rise in vegetarian thali meal costs and a 12.54% increase in non-vegetarian thali meal costs. 

What is a thali meal and how are its costs calculated?

Source: Indian Express

Thali is an Indian-style meal made up of a selection of various dishes – vegetarian and non-vegetarian – which are served on a platter. 

A veg thali comprises roti, vegetables (onion, tomato, and potato), rice, dal, curd, and salad.For non-veg thali, the constituents remain the same but for dal, which is replaced by chicken.

According to Crisil, the average cost of preparing a thali at home is calculated based on input prices prevailing in north, south, east and west India. 

The monthly change reflects the impact on the common man’s expenditure.The data also reveals the ingredients (cereals, pulses, broilers, vegetables, spices, edible oil, cooking gas) driving changes in the cost of a thali.

What led to the rise in prices of Thali meals?

The rise in thali prices was primarily driven by the significant increase in the price of tomatoes.

– For instance, of the 24.26% increase in the cost of a vegetarian thali, 21% can be attributed solely to the 176% rise in tomato prices over the past year, going from Rs 37/kg to Rs 102/kg. 

– Additionally, the prices of onions increased by 8%, chillies by 20%, and cumin by 158% from August 2022, contributing to a one percent increase in the cost of a vegetarian thali.

In the case of non-vegetarian thali, the cost increase was less pronounced because the price of broilers, which make up over 50% of the cost, rose only moderately by 1-3% during the year.

Will the Thali prices come down in the coming months

Thali prices are expected to decrease as the retail price of tomatoes has dropped to Rs 51/kg from July 2023. 

Additionally, the cost of a LPG cylinder has been reduced.This is good news for consumers and should provide some relief.

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