THE PURCHASE of big quantities of tomato here by Reliance Retail for its Jaipur hub has led to an artificial increase in the prices of tomatoes in the last few days. Vegetable vendors in the City seem to have jacked up the prices attributing the same to ‘aggressive’ purchases by Reliance. The retail prices of tomatoes in the City have shot up to Rs 10-12 per kg from Rs 7-8 per kg about a fortnight ago.
Reliance Retail is buying truckload of tomatoes from the Choithram Sabzi Mandi. At present, the company is buying tomatoes from the traders and not directly from the farmers.
However, the quantum of purchases is not large enough to create scarcity, say Mandi officials. “As against a daily arrival of 800 to 1000 crates of tomatoes, Reliance agents are purchasing around 250-300 crates once in three to four days,” Choithram Sabzi Mandi in charge Rakesh Dubey told Hindustan Times.
Obviously, the demand and the prices will go up on the day the purchases are made, but traders and vendors are using the pretext daily to make a quick buck or two.
“Reliance yesterday purchased three truckloads of tomatoes driving up the prices,” a vegetable vendor told HT when queried about the high tomato prices. However, Mandi officials, when contacted denied that Reliance had made any purchases on Wednesday.
At the Choithram mandi, wholesale tomato prices ruled in the range of Rs 80-100 per crate (20 kg) to Rs 150-160 per crate, depending on the quality.
That vendors have jacked up the prices is evident from the fact that Reliance agents are purchasing only about 6 tonnes of tomatoes twice a week. This is against a weekly arrival of 120-140 tonnes of tomatoes at the mandi. The deal for the last consignment Reliance purchased was struck for Rs 130-140 per crate, say Mandi officials, which is not exorbitant by any standards.
“This is not something new as the vendors had hiked prices of all the vegetables during a recent strike of traders and commission agents dealing in only potatoes and onions”, said Dubey.
Another recent phenomenon attributed to purchases by Reliance is that premium quality tomatoes notable for its red colour and big size are not readily available in the market. Reliance, the vendors say, is only procuring best quality tomatoes creating a scarcity in the market. The mandi officials counter this saying Reliance is not procuring enough to create a scarcity.
What Reliance says
A RELIANCE Retail official in the City, when contacted, refused comment saying he was involved only with setting up of Reliance Fresh stores and not connected to the purchases. “The purchasing work is being carried out by agents and not directly by the company,” he said.