After onions, potatoes to make you cry

Now that you’ve come to terms with the absence of onions from your favourite dishes, brace yourself for another blow. Yet another kitchen essential – the ubiquitous potato this time – looks all set to go the onion way, with prices shooting steadily upwards since last week.

Traders from the wholesale and retail markets claim that the heavy and prolonged rains this year have destroyed a substantial part of the potato crop. Islam Adreshi, a trader from the APMC wholesale Market, said, “At this time of the year, a majority of the crop is known to enter the market from places like Talegaon and Junar Talunka in Pune. But this year, the crop will start entering the market only after November 25.

Significantly smaller amounts of the new crop are coming in, and this is pushing the price of the commodity upwards. The old crop too is on the verge of being exhausted, and in the days to come, this could result in a widening gap between demand and supply.”

Prasad, another trader from Ekta Aloo Trading at APMC in Vashi, said, “The rains have played spoilsport this year, affecting not only onions but potatoes as well. In August and September, when the sowing season is at its peak, the unclear skies and the prolonged rains affected the crop greatly. Prices of potatoes would not match that of onions; but, compared to what the end consumer was paying a month ago for the commodity, they might end up spending more.”

Considering that the kitchen essential is also a staple in different varieties of fast food in the city, a rise in potato prices could also adversely affect the hospitality sector. Niranjan Shetty, chairman of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AAHAR), which has 8,000 eateries registered under it, said that the community is going to wait and watch whether the price of other commodities continues to increase, before making changes in the price of food items.

“We would not increase the price of food items on our menu immediately, but will consider it if the price of onions, potatoes and other commodities continue to remain high,” said Shetty. Hari Kotian, owner of DP’s restaurant in Matunga, saw a connection between the high prices and the shutting of many city restaurants in the recent past.

“When the price of onions shot up, we started serving cucumber to our customers but soon realised that doing so compromises on the taste of the dish. With the price of potatoes going up as well, we may have to think of alternatives for that vegetable as well – but we will consider that only if the prices rise too much. At present, we are trying to ensure that we do not waste any food commodities, especially the costly ones.”

Rs 25
Price of potatoes per kilo in the retail market, up from Rs 15-20 a couple of months ago

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