Supply disruption fuels price hike in atta, daal and edible oils

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) The prices of flour (atta), pulses, ‘besan’ and edible oils have gone up due to disruption in the supply chain following the 21-day countrywide lockdown called to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Wheat flour (atta) saw a rise of Rs 5 per kg, whereas ‘besan’ rose by Rs 10-12 a kg. Prices of edible oil too rose by Rs 5 per kg.

Retailers as well as wholesalers cite shortage of supplies from distributors. “The supply of ‘atta’ and ‘besan’ is low, and whatever is arriving is available at a higher prices”, said Sushil Kumar, a wholesaler from Delhi’s Shahdara.

Kumar said a 50 kg sack which was available for Rs 1,150 before the lockdown was announced is today available for Rs 1,400. The price of a special brand of ‘besan’ which came for Rs 1,970 for a 35kg sack has gone up to Rs 2,400.

A trader from Delhi’s Mandavali said the supply of branded food items has been reduced and distributors say the stocks are very low. He said he keeps his stock of biscuits, salted snacks, ‘sooji’, and ‘maida’ limited because he is being charged “arbitrary rates” for them. A retailer in Greater Noida said the demand for branded ‘atta’ is huge, but he is “tired of calling up the distributers”. “They don’t take the calls,” he said.

“Atta mill owners said due to the problem of transport and shortage of labourers following the lockdown, the production has been disrupted. However, Roller Flour Millers Federation of India’s General Secretary Veena Sharma told IANS that once the Food Corporation of India procures wheat, the mills would not face any problem.

On edible oil shortage, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India’s President Atul Chaturvedi said the lockdown should not affect the supply as the country’s stocks are enough for at least two months. He said the main problem is of logistics which would be eventually sorted out.

All India Daal Association’s President Suresh Aggarwal said the mills are yet to get over the supply problem. But he hoped that once the supply of raw pulses starts, the mills will have no problems in the availability of ‘daal’ as well as ‘besan’.