Nearly 60 per cent of middle and low-income groups are switching over to ready-to-eat food items to keep kitchen budgets intact in the wake of steep rise in vegetables and fruit prices, says a survey by Assocham.
The supply of tomatoes has been the worst affected after rains in some producing states hit supplies. This has suddenly led to spike in tomato prices by 300 per cent from the farm to the dining table in the last few days, the chamber said.
"Majority of lower-income groups and middle-income groups find it difficult to manage the household budget and prefer having ready-to-eat food than buying vegetables at high prices," Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.
The prices of most of the widely consumed vegetables have shot up during the last two weeks in most parts of the country with the early onset of monsoon rains.
The sudden increase in vegetable prices have seriously hit the common man mainly in the metro cities, he said. The chamber claimed that it has surveyed over 5,000 people in various cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Pune.
The survey said in the last three years, the salary of average common man has gone up to 15 per cent, but on the other side the prices of vegetables have also gone up by 250-300 per cent, the survey said.
The processed items which have seen a sharp increase in demand include tomato puree while those in the category of packaged food items like canned/dried processed food, frozen processed food, meal replacement products and condiments, have also seen demand surge, it added.
The survey said rising prices of fruits and vegetables have upset budgets of middle and lower-income families, particularly affecting those below the poverty line.