India did not experience any food price spikes during 2007–08 when global food prices erupted. It was partly due to India’s ban on exports of wheat and common rice India resorted to. But the fiscal stimulus that the government of India provided in 2009 in the wake of G8 countries’ and other major economies’ call to avert economic recession, coupled with one of the worst droughts India experienced in that year, led to rising food prices in India since mid- 2009. Food price inflation has hovered between 8–12 per cent per annum since then. The nature of food inflation, however, changed from being cereals-led to high value products (fruits and vegetables, and protein foods) during 2010–11 and 2011–12. Food inflation in India has been a major challenge to policy makers, more so during recent years when it has averaged 10 percent during 2008-09 to December 2012. Given that an average household in India still spends almost half of its expenditure on food, and poor around 60 percent (NSSO, 2011), and that poor cannot easily hedge against inflation, high food inflation inflicts a strong ‘hidden tax’ on the poor. Correct diagnosis about the nature, structure, and factors influencing food inflation, therefore, is critical for any rational policy decision to contain it within comfortable limits. Accordingly, this study finds that the pressure on prices is more on protein foods (pulses, milk and milk products, eggs, fish and meat) as well as fruits and vegetables, than on cereals and edible oils, especially during 2004-05 to December 2012. This normally happens with rising incomes, when people switch from cereal based diets to more protein based diets.
The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, stood at 7.52% (provisional) for the month of November, 2013 (over November, 2012) as compared to 7.00% (provisional) for the previous month and 7.24% during the corresponding month of the previous year. Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 6.70%...
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