Written by Amandeep
As onion prices have crossed Rs 100 per kg in Pune, local residents are being forced to cut down on their consumption and ration their purchases. The exorbitant price hike has also hit street food vendors, whose lip-smacking fares now lack the distinctive taste of the kitchen staple.
These vendors, whose livelihoods depend on their daily earnings, were the first ones to drop onions from their dishes. They say they will not be able to pass on the hiked price to their customers. Onions have gone conspicuously missing from bhel puri, sev puri and pani puri, street food items which otherwise have a generous amount of the vegetable. Street vendors have either reduced the amount of onions they use or replaced it entirely with shredded cauliflower.
Sandeep Bhagal, who runs a pani puri stall at Senapati Bapat Road, said he has stopped buying onions due to the steep rise in prices. But this move, admits Bhagal, has cost him quite a few customers. “I used to buy 2-3 kg of onions every day, but have stopped now,” he said.
Fluctuating for months, onion prices began soaring again after unseasonal rain in Maharashtra, one of the biggest producers of onions in the country, hit production this season. Traders have warned that there no possibility of onion prices falling any time soon, and they may rise further. The Centre’s decision to import onions has failed to quell the price rise as there is not much demand for imported onions.
Even hotels and restaurants are not unaffected by the spike in prices. Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers’ Association, said, “We make gravies that are made of 85 per cent onions. The price rise is a problem. We are curbing the use of onions by only adding them to salads, that too if customers specifically ask for onions,” he said.
Shagan Lal, who owns a vegetable shop at Law College Road, said the increasing prices have led to lower sales. “Our margins are still the same, but the sale has dropped by half. I used to sell over 30 kg every day, now I barely sell 15,” he said.