Food inflation falls to 9.01 percent

New Delhi: Food inflation fell sharply to single digit at 9.01 per cent for the week ended November 12 even as prices of most agricultural items, barring potatoes, onions and wheat, continued to rise, on an annual basis. Food inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was 10.63 per cent in the previous week. The rate of price rise in food items stood at 11.38 per cent in the corresponding week of the previous year.

According to the data released by the government today, onions became cheaper by 32.85 per cent year-on-year, while potato prices were down by 7.23. Price of wheat also fell by 3.09 per cent. However, all other food items became expensive on an annual basis during the week under review.
Vegetables became 17.66 per cent costlier, while pulses grew dearer by 14.28 per cent, milk by 10.46 per cent and eggs, meat and fish by 11.98 per cent. Fruits also became 4.59 per cent more expensive on an annual basis, while cereal prices were up 2.86 per cent.

Inflation in the overall primary articles category stood at 9.08 per cent during the week ended November 12, as against 10.39 per cent in the previous week. Primary articles have over 20 per cent weight in the wholesale price index.

Inflation in non-food articles, including fibres, oilseeds and minerals, was recorded at 4.05 per cent during the week under review, as against 5.33 per cent in the week ended November 5. Fuel and power inflation stood at 15.49 per cent during the week ended November 12, the same as in the previous week.

The decline in the rate of rise in food prices is likely to bring some relief to the government and the Reserve Bank, which have been facing flak from all quarters for persisting high prices. The government had said steps were being taken to remove supply bottlenecks and expected prices to ease from December.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the government`s immediate priority is to contain price rise. "High inflation and also some of the effort to control liquidity has a detrimental effect on short-run growth. The immediate priority is to control inflation so that long-term growth prospects are not affected," Mukherjee had said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Earlier this week, he had said in Parliament that inflation is likely to moderate to around 6-7 per cent by March 2012.

Headline inflation, which also factors in manufactured items, has been above the 9 per cent-mark since December, 2010. It stood at 9.73 per cent in October this year. The RBI has hiked interest rates 13 times since March, 2010, to tame demand and curb inflation. In its second quarterly review of the monetary policy last month, the central bank had said it expected inflation to remain elevated till December on account of the demand-supply mismatch, before moderating to 7 per cent by March, 2012.