With the country still reeling under the impact of the massive hike on onion prices, cooking oil prices too have surged up to 25 per cent affecting most hotels and middle-class families in Chennai. Cost of palm and sunflower oils has increased by more than Rs 30 per litre and lentil prices are also on a spree, according to retail sellers and hoteliers in Chennai.
“Two months ago, the cost of non-branded palm oil was around Rs 65 and now it is Rs 100 per litre. The sunflower oil tin of 15 litres was around Rs 1,300 in November and now it is Rs 1,670,” said M Sundaram, a wholesale trader in Central Chennai. “We haven’t been explained the reason behind the surge by suppliers and the increase took place in a phased manner since last Deepavali. Now with US-Iran tension brewing, oil prices are expected to increase further due to hike in fuel rates by Pongal,” the trader rued.
For the past two months, hoteliers were hit by onion prices, and now it is the turn of oil and dal to haunt the hotel industry, said N Ravi, president, Chennai Hoteliers Association. “The input costs for cooking oil, dal and fuel have shot up by 20 to 25 per cent eating into our profits and restaurant owners are finding it difficult to run eatouts. Restaurants have already been hit by economic slowdown resulting in low footfall and the inflation is again affecting the industry ahead of Pongal holidays. Urud dal which was around Rs 100 per kg is now Rs 130 and the cost of other provision items is also increasing,” he said. Ravi also urged the State and the Centre to curtail the price rise of essential commodities.
According to S Sreenivasan, who owns two Chettinaad restaurants in north Chennai, petrol and diesel prices have increased in the past months by over Rs 5 while the previous month they suffered losses due to onion prices. “Now cooking oil fuel price has increased our input cost choking the food industry,” said S Sreenivasan. “Already the price of biriyani was increased due to onion cost, but now cooking oil and dal have created a dent in our profits.”