Milk, fruits cost more but India’s platter gets healthier

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Jul 06, 2013 01:41 IST

An average Indian is spending much more on buying fruits and vegetables and milk products than cereals and pulses. Call it the inflation impact.

The latest National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data shows that spending of an Indian has more than doubled on buying fruit, vegetables and milk products in the last five years whereas expenditure on cereals and pulses has increased by only between 33 to 75%.

Spending on fruit, vegetables and milk products has increased much more than average increase in overall expenditure on food items indicating inflationary impact.

The survey of around one lakh households across India on consumer expenditure released in June shows that per capita monthly food expenditure of an Indian has increased by around 110 % between 2007-08 and 2011-12. But that on vegetable, fruits and milk products increased between 120 to 240 %.

This is primarily because the prices of fruit, vegetables and milk products have more than doubled during the period, thereby showing implication for one’s monthly spending. “It also shows that people are getting health conscious and spending more on what they consider healthy food,” said a senior government official.

Although the survey confirms that popular perception that an average Indian has more disposable income, the worrying trend is that share of milk has increase in one’s monthly food budget. Spending on most of other food items as share of monthly expenditure has been on decline.

In fact, the share of milk in one’s food budget was on decline till 2004-05. It started shooting up thereafter and witnessed maximum increase between 2009-10 and 2011-12.

Further segregation of data shows that spending of rural Indians on fruit, vegetables and milk products has increased more than those in urban areas.

For instance, the spending of a person in rural India on milk products increased by 105% in rural India as compared to 90% in urban areas. Similarly, spending on fruits and vegetables in rural India was higher than in urban areas.

The trend is broken when it comes to spending on cereals and pulses. The expenditure of an urban Indian on cereals increased by 47% as against 33% for the same in villages. And the probable reason was that in villages people grow cereals and pulses for home consumption which is not accounted in the survey.


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