Rising vegetable prices squeeze vegetarian pockets in December 2023

The cost of a vegetarian meal experienced a significant 12 per cent surge, while the price of a non-vegetarian meal declined by 4 per cent in contrast to December 2022

Representative image (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image (photo: National Herald archives)
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NH Economic Bureau

Vegetarians found themselves shelling out more for their home-cooked thali compared to their non-vegetarian counterparts in December 2023, according to a report released by CRISIL Market Intelligence & Analytics. The study revealed that the cost of a vegetarian meal experienced a significant 12 per cent surge, while the price of a non-vegetarian meal declined by 4 per cent during the same period, in contrast to December 2022.

The escalation in the cost of vegetarian thalis was primarily propelled by substantial spikes in the prices of key ingredients, with onions and tomatoes witnessing increases of 82 per cent and 42 per cent respectively. Additionally, pulses, constituting about 9 per cent of the vegetarian thali cost, experienced a notable 24 per cent year-on-year increase.

Conversely, the report attributed the decrease in the cost of non-vegetarian thalis to a significant 15 per cent drop in broiler prices compared to the previous year, attributed to higher production.

Encouragingly, the report highlighted a month-on-month relief for consumers, with the cost of home-cooked vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals witnessing a 3 per cent and 5 per cent decline, respectively, in December 2023 compared to November 2023 prices.

This positive shift was attributed to a 14 per cent and 3 per cent month-on-month decrease in onion and tomato prices respectively, thanks to the conclusion of the festive season. The non-vegetarian thali cost declined at a faster rate owing to a 5-7 per cent on-month decrease in broiler prices, constituting approximately 50 per cent of the overall costs.

The report indicated that in November 2023, the cost of cooking a plate of vegetarian food was Rs 29.70, down from Rs 30.5 in October 2023, while the cost of a non-vegetarian meal was Rs 57.6, down from Rs 60.4 in the same period.

This analysis comes just two days ahead of the release of official figures on the consumer price index, scheduled for Friday. The ministry of statistics had previously reported a retail inflation increase to 5.55 per cent in November, following a four-month low of 4.87 per cent in October.

Higher food prices were identified as a key driver of the increased cost of living, with food inflation rising by 8.7 per cent during November. The decline in thali costs, reflecting a decrease in food prices, is expected to be evident in the upcoming December figures.

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