A steep hike in prices of vegetable and fruits has made the monthly budget of middle class and poorer sections go haywire.
This has also led many consumers to rush to retail chain outlets as prices are considerably lower than what local vendors are charging.
According to traders at Pune Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC),there has been a considerable decline in daily arrival of fruits and vegetables at the market. The decline is being attributed to low production due to high temperature in areas that supply agricultural produce to Pune market.
At Gultekdi market we get about 180 to 220 trucks of vegetables a day but last week,arrival dropped to 140-150 trucks a day. The dip resulted in prices of coriander,methi,spinach,ginger and french bean rising by Rs 5 to 15 per kg. Prices will remain high for two to three weeks and will come down gradually, said Vilas Bhujbal,a trader.
As prices of agricultural produce started taking a toll on the household budget,many consumers have started flocking retail chain outlets where they are getting a better deal.
Food retail chains such as Future Groups Food Bazaar,Reliance Fresh,Central Mall,Hypercity Store,D Mart and Vishal Mega Mart are selling fruit and vegetables up to 40% cheaper than local vendors,as they manage to source products from farmers and wholesalers at lower prices owing to economies of scale,and availability of credit.
At Central Mall,a bunch of coriander is available for Rs 13 per kg compared to Rs 25 a kg the local vendor sells at. While retailers are selling tomatoes for Rs 40 a kg,the same costs Rs 28 a kg at the mall. While retailers are charging Rs 30 for a kg of cucumber,vendors are demanding Rs 40-45 a kg. Apples are selling between Rs 140 and 160 a kg at retail outlets depending on variety while local vendors are charging over Rs 200 for the same quantity. Watermelon,muskmelon and oranges are also cheaper at retail outlets than at the vendors.
Ritika Walia,a third year BSc student at Sir Parshurambhau College,said,I always buy fruits from mall because quality is better and prices are lower than what roadside shops charge. Also prices are displayed in malls unlike at retail fruit stalls. I dont need to know what the going rate of fruits is. I can just go and buy quickly without any bargaining.