By Prakash VL

Edible oil prices are hitting the roof; merchants say fuel price effect is trickling down

Despite assurances from the Centre, the prices of edible oil are increasing in the city. In recent days, edible oil prices increased to Rs.15-20 per litre. Most of the branded sunflower oil is selling from Rs.140 to Rs.180 per litre. Prices of pulses, grains and other household essentials are also increasing gradually. The increasing petrol and diesel prices have contributed to rising logistics costs and top the rise in prices.

But, Karnataka Oil Seeds Growers Federation officials said that at the onset of the festival season, the increase in demand and prices of edible oil is a common phenomenon. The labour problem in some countries has created a demand and thus the rise of prices, said an official. After harvests, if there is a good yield then there is a possibility of a decline in prices, he said.

But oil seller Satya Bhaskar is not so sure. He says as the edible also contains petroleum products, it is natural that increasing petrol prices influence the price of edible oils. “It is only in the last 10 days, that prices rose by Rs.10-15 per litre. In July, there was a little decline in prices, but now it is rising continuously. Given the situation, I don’t think the prices will come down in the near future,” he said.

But, the price rise has changed the buying habits of the people. Shankarananda, a provision store owner, says there is around Rs.60-100 rise in edible oil prices since the country started to lock down due to pandemic. In October 2020 the branded oil price was around Rs.105-110 per litre, but now it is up to Rs.180. “This may be due to a lack of raw material supply from China. People are buying lesser quantities of oil these days. Earlier a customer who would buy 1 litre, has started buying half a litre of oil. People have now reduced their consumption due to high prices. This is resulting in less trade,” he said.

The Centre on Sunday imposed stock limits on traders of edible oils and oilseeds, barring importers and exporters, till March 31, in a bid to check rising domestic prices and give relief to consumers. Edible oil prices in the domestic retail markets have shot up sharply by up to 46.15 per cent in the last one year due to global factors and local tight supply situation, as per government data. “The Centre’s decision will soften the prices of edible oils in the domestic market, bringing great relief to consumers across the country,” the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

As per the order issued to all states, state governments and union territories will decide the stock limit to be imposed on edible oils and oilseeds after taking into account the available stock and consumption pattern of that particular state or UT. However, certain importers and exporters have been exempted from the stock limit.

According to the ministry, high prices of edible oils in the international market have a substantial impact on the domestic edible oil prices. Measures like rationalisation of import duty structure, launching of a web-portal for self-disclosure of stocks held by various stakeholders had already been taken, it said. India meets more than 60 per cent of its edible oil demands through imports.

(With inputs from agencies)

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