Notwithstanding a correction in wholesale markets, onion prices in retail markets in Maharashtra continued to remain high with the bulb trading at an average of Rs 100 per kg. Trade sources are now speaking of an imminent dip in onion prices as domestic arrivals are set to increase in the second half of December.
The average traded price of the bulb in the wholesale market of Pimpalgaon in Nashik district’s Niphad taluka on Thursday was Rs 6,000 per quintal — a correction of over Rs 500 since Wednesday. The bulb was trading over Rs 8,000 per quintal since the start of December, but prices have started coming down starting December 9. This correction, NCP MLA and chairman of the market Diliprao Bankar said, was due to improved arrivals.
“Arrivals will increase after December 15, after which prices will collapse,” he said.
Bankar has asked the central government to allow exports of onions to prevent a collapse in prices once arrivals improve. “If imports are allowed, we should be allowed to export, else prices will collapse in wholesale markets,” he said.
Bankar opined that imported onions had failed to make much impact in wholesale or retail markets. “Their lack of pungency has not gone down well with the consumers. Also, the quantum of imports is negligible as compared to the consumption of the country,” he said.
Maharashtra alone is estimated to consume about 5,000-6,000 tonnes of the kitchen staple on a daily basis. Till date, about 20,000 tonnes of imported onions have entered markets, with private traders alone bringing in about 7,000 tonnes.
The correction in wholesale rates is yet to reflect in retail rates, with the data maintained by the Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) of the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies showing the average retail rate to be about Rs 100 per kg. Retailers in cities such as Pune and Mumbai have been selling their stock at around Rs 110-120 per kg. Bankar said retail prices would correct themselves in the next few days as more and more stock reaches such outlets from wholesale markets. “The stock is in transit. Once it reaches, there is going to be a large-scale price correction,” he said.
Suresh Deshmukh, a commission agent operating out of the Dindori wholesale market in Nashik district, ruled out any chance of stocking by traders. “With the premium rates being offered, it would make sense to sell rather than stock,” he said.
Officials of the district collectorate are keeping a close watch on onion prices and daily sales. Wholesale traders can now stock only 250 quintals while retail traders can stock only 20 quintals of the bulb, as of December 3.