New Delhi: Inflation has forced homemakers to alter their kitchen budgets and cut down on consumption for fruits, vegetables, milk, pulses, fish, meat and eggs by almost 40% compromising on nutrient rich food, reveals the ASSOCHAM latest survey.
Nearly 72% of lower middle class families, covered in the survey, said they have been forced to squeeze their budgets for fruits, vegetables, milk, because of consistent high retail prices, highlights the ASSOCHAM quick survey conducted in a period of two months beginning October to November 2013 in which over 2,000 housewives and 1,000 employees took part.
“The price rise of essential commodities and expenses on other necessities like education, transport and health has stayed higher than the pace at which earnings have increased, making life difficult for the poor, lower income and even middle class families,” said Mr. D S Rawat ASSOCHAM Secretary General.
Changes in nutrient consumption: (share of proteins /share of fats / share of carbohydrates)
“The food inflation has been the sustained pressure in protein rich items (milk, pulses, fish, meat and eggs). Inflation at the retail level in protein rich items has generally exceeded headline (WPI) inflation”, said Mr. Rawat.
As India’s population is predominantly vegetarian, milk forms an essential component of the diet. While the per capita availability of milk has also increased from 176 grams per day in 1990-1991 to 276 gram per day in 2010-2011, the issue now is that of affordability. In fact, milk in liquid form is not being consumed at home to the extent of availability; the large quantity of milk is utilized for making milk products, points out the survey.
The survey further added that even the good old affordable tomatoes, onion, lady finger and potatoes are becoming unaffordable even for the middle class families.
The survey was conducted in a period of three months beginning October to November 2013. The survey reveals that maximum impact was felt in major cities like Delhi-NCR (1st), Mumbai (2nd), Ahmedabad (3rd), Kolkata (4th), Chennai (5th), Hyderabad (6th) and Pune (7th) and Chandigarh (8th).
Around 87% of respondents in the survey said that they cannot afford the season’s exotic fruits and are cutting on vegetables. The survey found that low-income groups are increasingly cutting back on the nutrient-rich snacks because they can no longer afford them, adds the survey.
Around 65 per cent of the survey respondents fall under the age bracket of 25-29 years, followed by 30-39 years (26 per cent), 40-49 years (16 per cent), 50-59 years (2 per cent) and 60-65 years.
The food price spiral has pinched all the lower and middle class families across the board. More than 62% of salaried families said that they shell out between Rs. 4,000 to 6,000 on vegetables and fruits itself. About five years ago this expenditure was one fourth of it, they added. They are now forced to rethink their daily menus, or patronize the local Mother Dairy outlets, prices are only a shade lower there.
Those with relatively bigger families of say, six members are feeling the heat more, especially those where there is a single income earning person. At lower rung of the lower middle class, there are a large number of families who live on a monthly income of Rs.8,000-10,000, adds the survey.
Majority of respondents said that they prefer to buy veggies in bulk instead of every day. However the prices of fruits and vegetables at Mandis, Mother Dairy are comparatively lower than market prices.
Though pulses are not alternatives to vegetables and are only supplements, prices of the cereals have been staying high in any case. “At this rate, the nutrition intake of people is declining calling for immediate steps from the government to control the situation,” said Mr Rawat.