Dilip Kumar

Leave the skyrocketing prices of petrol and diesel, a steep rise in the rates of edible oils has set fire on frying pan in the kitchen of consumers.

Exhibiting a downtrend in the price 15 days ago, the cooking oil has again driven up the inflation, pinching the pockets of the middle-class people.

The rate of the oil had declined by Rs 15-20 a fortnight ago, however, it is currently retailing Rs 10 more than the fixed price in the market. 

The palm oil which was sold at Rs 80-85 per litre now costs Rs 125-130 in the retail market. Not only palm oil, but also prices of Sunflower, Vanaspati, Soybean and Mustard oil have also jumped off the roof, forcing a common home maker to cut short kitchen budget.

“We have no other way rather than controlling the kitchen budget. I request the government to take steps for a slash in the prices of kitchen materials,” said Suchismita Dash, a housewife in Cuttack.

The tiffin traders and restaurateurs are also reeling under a similar crisis. The price rise has hit hard the road side food vendors who eke out a living by selling their snacks.

Braja Govinda Patra, a snack vendor in Berhampur usually earns Rs 500-600 a day by preparing snacks with around 8 litres of palm oil. The increase in price has now hindered his prospects of earning profit. He fears low consumer turnout will hurtle his business if he suddenly raises the prices of his items.

“I can’t increase the price of food items fearing consumers’ dissatisfaction. The pandemic has also hit hard the trade. I have to make a balance in the business,” Patra said.

The Centre had also recently admitted the price rise crisis in the country. Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal, in a reply to a query in the Parliament, had said that the edible oil prices have hit a record high this year. 

In retail, sunflower oil price has surged maximum by 40.6 per cent while Soybean saw a rise of 37 per cent in its prices. The price of palm oil has witnessed a hike of 35.3 per cent.

Goyal attributed the price hike to low production due to inclement weather and price rise in the international market.

The traders' association in Odisha, however, expects a dip in the surging prices after August 15, which is expected to give a sigh of relief to the consumers.

"The prices have been soaring in several places due to irregular supply chain. The rates are expected to fall after the shipments arrive in the market after August 15,” said Sudhakar Panda, General Secretary, All Odisha Traders’ association.