For the fashionistas, inflation has struck their favourite branded tags. For avid gamers, the rise in prices of the Halo series is unbearable. Frequent travellers have had to curb their itchy feet thanks to rising fares.
But the rising prices have also affected diverse commodities and everyone is adversely affected by it. Talking to fruit and vegetable vendors and their customers, we have found that a price rise has dampened spirits all round.
“Typically, seasonal changes mark the prices,” said Kuthub Rahman, a hawker in Vasanth Nagar. He further elucidates that vegetable rates have gone up because of heat and fear of pilferage.
“Last week, the price of beans per kilo was `40. This week, it has shot up to `100.”
Nagaraj Gowda, a vendor from RT Nagar considers felling of trees to be the cause of the sudden spurt in prices. “Trees bring rain. But, in the name of development, if trees are cut to construct buildings, where is the water for vegetables to grow well?” thus, implying that declining green pockets have caused the price spurts in vegetables.
One may wonder why shopkeepers are cribbing about the rise in prices. Paradoxical as it may sound, a price hike affects the vendors more than the customers themselves.
Pyaare Jaan, a vendor from City Market says, “The number of customers remains constant. But, the quantity they purchase has fallen.” Mohan Lal, a pomegranate vendor in Frazer Town says, “Customers who used to buy three or four kilos at `40, now only buy half a kilo for `70."
Competition prevails in every market. This industry is no different. “We rush to wholesalers in Kalasipalayam or City Market early in the morning around 5:am and that is where the prices are fixed for the day,” said Kala, a vendor in Russell Market.
True to the adage, ‘An early bird catches the worm,’ vendors who arrive first and bid the higher price gets to take away the fresh stock. This affects vendors like Miama and Manoharta from Shivajinagar as they do not have sufficient capital to procure the veggies and fruits. Hence, they are left with old stock and customers do not prefer to buy from them.
“Spoilage in any sector means loss of customers. Our trade is no different. If customers spot damages in the fruits, we are forced to offer a lesser price. That way, we undergo a loss,” said Munuswamy, a fruit seller from Basavangudi who says wholesalers offer him five to six per cent of their profit on every stock sold.
During the mango season, the price of mangoes is very high in the beginning. These mangoes come from Tamil Nadu and have a price of `100 per kilo. In the middle of the season, the price takes a drastic turn and falls to `50 per kilo. Jagannath, a vendor in Vasanth Nagar says, “Five years back, a box of apples weighing 80 kilos cost `3,500. Today, it has increased by `1,000.”
Even with such high prices, some consumers still continue to purchase fruits and veggies without hesitating. “As long as I get fresh fruits that are good for my health, I am ready to pay a high price. Besides, the shopkeeper is not cheating me. He is just offering me a price with a marginal profit for himself. That is quite reasonable,” says Narayan Shetty, a regular customer of a hawker in Vasanth Nagar. He often picks up figs and jamoon that he thinks, help reduce sugar, increase iron content and help beat the heat.
On the contrary, Jagan, an auto driver from Rajajinagar says that he has his own garden in which he grows tomatoes, spinach and chillies. He says the rise in prices has left him with no choice but to explore his hobby as a gardener. Jagan explains that having his own house is definitely a boon for growing his own veggies. However due to his working hours, he is not able to give enough time and attention to the same.
Wholesaler Mujeeb who sells his stock to vendors in City Market considers the hike in diesel prices to be the reason behind the high price of fruits and vegetables. “If government changes, inflation can drop,” he said.
Pushpa Sridhar, a regular shopper at City Market said, “I travel once a week all the way from Banshankari to purchase fruits here. The varieties are more and the rates in city markets I feel, are cheaper than other retail outlets where the prices are sky rocketing.”