Onions have left customers teary-eyed as prices of the staple continue to soar in many states of the country, sparking protests in several places. Widely used in Indian cuisine, onions have hit record high prices of Rs 150-160 per kilogram in some Indian cities this year after untimely rains damaged crops, sparking a nationwide outcry, questions in Parliament, onion thefts in India.
But while people are suffering from the price rise, many opt for e-commerce sites to buy onions. But even the e-commerce websites are hiking up the price to make it look like they are giving a discount.
While in market the price of onion is around Rs 150-160, the websites are hiking the price to Rs 260 and then giving it at a discounted rate of Rs 209. Even website like Amazon is doing the same, they hiked the price to Rs 263 and sold the same onions at a discounted rate of Rs 136.
Sometimes, e-commerce websites also give attractive promotional offers, free gifts and home delivery services also lure a lot of people.
The steep rise in onion prices is mainly due to substantial drop in the arrival of the stock at Chhatra Bazar and Aiginia Mandi at Bhubaneswar following shortage in supply from Nashik in Maharashtra.
Households and restaurants in India are reeling under pressure as onion prices have surged exponentially across the country. Many restaurateurs have begun to use fewer onions, or have started using alternative fillers like cabbage. Even households are being forced to change their diets. The price surge has forced a few state governments to start selling onions at a subsidised price, in the same manner as the country does for grains such as wheat and rice.
On Tuesday, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said that Onion prices have increased by 400 per cent after March as the average retail price of onion on December 3, 2019 was recorded to be Rs 81.9 per kg as compared to Rs 15.87 per kg in March 2019.
State-run trading firm MMTC has placed another onion import order of 4,000 tonnes from Turkey and the shipments are expected to reach by mid-January. This is in addition to 17,090 tonnes of onions already contracted, which includes 6,090 tonnes from Egypt and 11,000 tonnes from Turkey, it said in a statement. MMTC is importing onions on the behalf of the government, which is trying to check prices of the key bulb by improving domestic supplies through various modes, including imports.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has also directed MMTC to issue three more tenders for import of onions. Out of three tenders, two are the country-specific, namely Turkey and the European Union, and one is a global tender. Each of these tenders are for 5,000 tonnes. To facilitate early imports, the Consumer Affairs Ministry said certain norms have been relaxed in the new tenders issued. These include the size of onions to be imported have been expanded to 40mm-80mm, consortium bidding has been allowed, exporters can offer shipment in multiple lots.
(Inputs from Agencies)