Crashing wholesale onion prices yet to benefit consumers

NEW Delhi, January 26 (PTI): Onion wholesale prices that since last month have plummeted 69 per cent in Delhi and by upto 80 per cent in Lasalgaon, the country’s largest onion market, are yet to be fully passed on to consumers. Vegetable traders bought the staple commodity in range of Rs 5-20/kg on January 25, against the ruling price of Rs 65 a kg around December 21. This contrasts with onion being sold at retail outlets in Delhi at Rs 40 a kg on January 25 against Rs 85/kg around December 21, a fall of 52 per cent, traders said.
Nonetheless, the kitchen staple has become more affordable since the peak of the crisis when escalating costs of this bulb along with vegetables like tomato and garlic pushed up food inflation for the week ending Christmas, to the year’s high of 18.32 per cent. The slide in onion prices in the wholesale markets give wing to the hopes that the crisis would end soon. New Food Minister K V Thomas said recently that onion prices will improve from end-January. Wholesale price of good quality onions are expected to fall to Rs 15/kg by the end of January and Rs 10/kg in February, said Rajendra Sharma, General Secretary of the Onion Merchants Association in the Azadpur market.
Traders tell it will take a few days before the decline in wholesale prices is fully transferred to consumers. The drop in wholesale price is significant in prominent onion markets of Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon in Nashik, one of the major onion producing region in Maharashtra. In Lasalgaon, onion was yesterday being sold at Rs 13 per kg from Rs 67/kg on December 21, a drop of 80 per cent, according to the National Horticultural Research Development Foundation, set up by agri-cooperative Nafed, that publishes daily wholesale rates of the vegetable in prominent cities. Similarly, onion prices softened at Pimpalgaon by 78% during the period, NHRDF added.