If you go to a restaurant these days, you will notice that the humble onion utthappa costs more than it did and that free plate of onion rings is not on the table anymore.
Hotels are feeling the pinch of rising onion prices and they are passing the burden to consumers.
“We have to pass on the price rise to customers or stop giving free onions with meals to sustain business otherwise,” Chandrahas Shetty, hotelier and ex-president, Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said. “Where we can, we use substitutes like offering salads instead of onions but a dish likes onion utthappa is bound to get expensive.”
Homemakers are cutting onion consumption because prices are eating into their budgets. Kashuben Patel, a homemaker from Goregaon, buys only 1kg instead of 2.5kg like she used to. “Ten days ago, I bought onions for Rs25 a kg but today, I just could not afford them,” she said.
With a monthly budget of Rs18,00 to Rs2,000 for vegetables, Patel finds Rs70 for a kilogram of onions steep. “I have stopped giving my sons onions with meals,” she said.
The Disha Hoteliers’ Association is opposed to hotels hiking prices. “Business is already down. It is unfair to burden consumers further,” said Shailesh Shetty, the association’s president.
The price rise is also affecting retailers. “Onion prices are like share prices with the Sensex changing every now and then,” said Rita Shah, owner of Food Plaza Grocery at Bandra. “Wholesalers say prices will reduce after the new crop is out by February.”