Navi Mumbai: So what’s on the sweets menu this festival season? Maybe nothing. Or sugar-free mithai, at most.
That’s what Vashi resident Seema Sahani (40) plans to do for the Ganeshotsav and Diwali celebrations.
“This festival season instead of indulging our sweet tooth, we could be left with a bitter taste in the mouth,” said the management executive.
After vegetables, grains and pulses now sugar prices are threatening to upset the applecart for household budgets.
Low production coupled with panic buying has sent sugar prices soaring in the last week.
Traders fear there are worse times ahead. Sugar prices at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee, Vashi have been rising steadily every day for the last week.
“We are on the verge of the festive season, and around this time demand soars,” said secretary of the Bombay Sugar Merchants’ Association, Mukesh Kuvadia.
Making matters worse is the government’s announcement that sugar production is down by over 40 per cent.
“It has fuelled panic buying. People are buying ten-fold of what they would otherwise buy,” said Kuvadia.
Leading sugar trader Roshan Murgai said one reason for the high prices is low sugar production in Uttar Pradesh.
“States like West Bengal are now buying from Maharashtra, putting pressure on stocks available here,” said Murgai.
Murgai estimated that there was a need to import around 30-40 lakh tonnes of sugar in the country to meet the demand, and consequently reduce prices.
“However, international prices are at record high levels and so importing sugar is not a viable option,” said Murgai.
With the state government asking farmers to crush sugarcane only in November for maximum yield, no fresh stock could arrive till Diwali, said Kuvadia.
Retailer Harish Shah said they had hiked prices almost every day in the last week. “From Rs 27-28 per kg a week back, we are now selling at Rs 32-33.” He said prices were expected to touch up to Rs 40 a kg in the retail market.