The rise in lemon prices in India echoes onion inflation a decade ago

The rise in lemon prices in India echoes onion inflation a decade ago
Image: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
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Over the past couple of weeks, lemon prices have skyrocketed to 350 rupees ($4.6) per kilogram in India. One lemon now costs Rs10, five times more than its average price.

The citrus fruit is used in India as a cleaning agent, an ingredient in many dishes, to prepare a host of beverages, and to ward off evil.

“Earlier, we used to purchase a whole lemon sack for Rs700 which now costs Rs3,500…Nobody is ready to accept that the prices have gone up and are leaving without purchasing lemons,” a roadside vendor told news agency ANI.

Vegetable prices have, in general, spiked across India following an increase in fuel and transportation costs, especially in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war. The weather has been particularly unfavourable in lemon-growing regions, too.

The sudden increase in the price of lemon reminds Indians of similar spikes in onion prices almost every year, particularly one witnessed a decade ago. In October 2013, it shot up by 278.2% due to a combination of factors: rising consumption, a debilitating drought, and hoarding, among others.

Why are lemon prices rising in India?

Since March 22, the increase in fuel prices has spilled over to vegetables, given the cost of transport for vendors in Gujarat, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, the three main lemon-producing states, has surged.

At a time when the global food price index has surged to an all-time high—159.3 in March, India’s retail inflation is expected to register a 16-month high of 6.35% due to a sustained increase in food prices, according to a Reuters poll of economists.