Mango Inflation: No Country For Aam Aadmi
Inflation is seemingly everywhere.
Airfares are expensive so that summer holiday is looking shaky. Fuel prices are soaring so long drives aren't the best idea either. Sit home and binge on mangoes and Netflix? Even that may come at a cost.
For a mango-crazy nation, which loves all forms of mango from 'aam panna' to 'aam ras' and mango slices to mango ice cream, this summer may bring some bad news.
Rohan Ursal, a fourth generation wholesaler of the fruit, says this year has been one of the worst in recent memory. One peti of mangoes from Ratnagiri, which would cost Rs 700-800 each earlier, is costing him Rs 1,200-1,500 this season. "I don't see the common man being able to enjoy what we look forward to in the summer."
While prices may differ from location to location, nationwide data also shows sharply higher costs for early-season mangoes.
The average price of mangoes across India was running 42% higher than a year ago in the month up to April 7, according to daily prices compiled by BloombergQuint from Agmarknet, a government portal that collects and reports data from wholesale agricultural markets.
Prices are higher despite strong supplies.
Arrivals of mangoes to markets rose to 19,366 tonnes up to April 7, 11% more than the same period an year earlier, according to Agmarknet data.
However, Ursal says that supply this year is a trickle of what it is in a normal year. "I am receiving barely 30-40 petis a day this year, compared to 400-500 a day in previous years. The reason? Climate changes. While flowering was off to a promising start, he said, it was later affected by unpredictable weather.
According to estimates by Crisil, for the full season, supply is expected to be 2% higher year-on-year at 208.6 lakh tonnes, amid better crop outlook in northern and southern India.
As more supply comes in, the price rise over last year may be more palatable.
Indian mango prices in 2022 are likely to inch up by 6-8% compared with the previous year due to increase in export demand and higher logistics costs, says Pushan Sharma, director at Crisil Research.
India is likely to export 40,000-45,000 tonnes of mangoes this year, an increase of 40-45% year-on-year on a low base due to the second wave of Covid-19, according to Crisil's estimates. Indian mangoes recently received approval from the U.S. market as well, which was earlier restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sharma says.
Export of mango pulp is also expected to increase 20% to 1,45,000 tonnes in 2022, he adds.
India accounts for 40.48% of the total world mango production.
Your Beloved Alphonso Also Costs More
India grows nearly 1,500 varieties of mangoes, according to the National Horticulture Board. Which is your favourite? Alphonso? Too bad!
Even as overall production is likely to inch up, unseasonal rainfall in January impacted yield in some western states, Sharma says. Unseasonable rains in January and February impacted output in Maharashtra and could bring down production by 3-5%, he says.
Alphonso prices are expected around Rs 30-32 per kg compared to Rs 27 per kg a year before, Sharma says. Ursal says that a peti of alphonso is currently nearly 30-40% costlier than an year earlier.
For some of the other varities, such as Payari, Lalbag or Bainganpally, prices are almost 40-50% higher, according to Ursal. But supply will pick up by the 25th this month. "That's when excess supply enters markets.”
There is hope yet that amid soaring summer heat and prices, you may still be able to eat mangoes to your heart's content.