The homely wheat flour or atta that is a staple in most Indian kitchens is witnessing a sudden increase in prices. This has resulted in an increase in prices of bakery products, breads and biscuits too. This is a cause for concern for the average Indian household that is already reeling under the pressures of inflation.
Wheat flour prices hit a decade high last month. All India monthly average retail price of wheat flour stood at Rs 32.38/kg in April, which is the highest since January 2010. On May 7, the price was Rs 32.78/kg, according to government data by State Civil Supplies Departments to the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
A kilo of wheat flour cost Rs 30.03/g a year ago. A year-on-year analysis shows that the prices have increased 9.15 per cent in a year.
Bakery products, bread costs more too
Needless to say, the increase in atta prices has led to its own domino effect. Since atta prices are up, prices of bakery products, biscuits and breads too have registered a sharp increase in recent months.
This is evinced by the retail inflation for bakery bread which was at 8.39 per cent in March – the highest in the past seven years.
Britannia, one of the leading makers of bakery products, is set to increase prices by 10 per cent in the coming days. It already pushed a hike of 10 per cent in 2022.
Britannia Managing Director Varun Berry said that prices of raw materials such as flour, sugar, cashew, and laminated and corrugated boxes have increased due to the global geopolitical situation. He added that they have to be on their toes regarding the low wheat production and take calls on a month-to-month basis.
Why atta prices are high
The increase in prices is due to fall in stocks and production of wheat because of an early summer, as well as high demand outside the country. The war on Ukraine that is one of the foremost producers of wheat has limited supply. Russia and Ukraine together account for a quarter of the world’s total wheat exports.
Indians are also shelling more because of higher overseas demand for Indian wheat. High prices of fuel have also added to the woes.
Mumbai residents are paying Rs 49/kg for atta, followed by Rs 34/kg in Chennai. Delhi is paying Rs 27/kg. Among the 156 centres for which data is available, the price on Saturday was the highest in Port Blair (Rs 59/kg) and lowest (Rs 22/kg) in West Bengal's Purulia.
(With inputs from Aishwarya Paliwal)
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