Mumbai: Onion wholesale prices fall, but hoteliers still using onions sparingly

Tabassum Barnagarwala
Maharashtra: Onion wholesale prices fall, but hoteliers still using onions sparingly

Several vendors said they have stopped stocking onions. (Express Photo: Narandra Waskar)

A day after bulb prices fell across the state as arrivals in the wholesale markets rose sharply, onions continued to be missing from salads and sparse in curries served at hotels and restaurants in the city. The significant dip in wholesale rates, restaurateurs said Tuesday, was yet to be reflected in the retail markets.

Onion prices had touched Rs 160-170 per kg in local vegetable markets across Mumbai and its suburbs over the last week. On Monday, prices fell by 30 per cent with onion growers bringing more domestic produce to wholesale markets to get the benefit of the higher prices.

At Lasalgaon wholesale market, India’s biggest onion market, prices fell to an average of Rs 4,500 per quintal Monday after it traded at Rs 6,000 per quintal last week.

At Jai Hanuman restaurant, a vegetarian eatery in Andheri East, customers were served a medley of cucumber and tomato, instead of the usual raw onion, alongside other dishes. “We have been buying onion for Rs 130 per kilogramme. Our stock will last another three to four days. Till then, we will not serve any free onions along with dishes,” manager Diwakar Shetty said. Shetty added the prices fell only by Rs 20-30 per kg after larger establishments began to buy from the recently imported stock. “It is still expensive. We will wait for onion prices to touch Rs 40-60 per kg before we start serving it as usual,” he said.

Crawford Market-based vendor Mohan Turkar said he continues to sell onions at Rs 12 per kg. “The cost in the wholesale market is Rs 95 per kg today. But I am yet to exhaust my existing stock. It will be two-three days more before prices fall in the local market,” he said.

Meanwhile, several vendors said they have stopped stocking onions. Rohit Chheda, the owner of Satyam Grocery store on Veera Desai Road in Andheri, had decided not to buy a fresh stock when the prices touched Rs 100 per kg. “My regular customers have stopped purchasing onions. So we stopped stocking it,” he said. Nearby, Chheda Stores owner said they would restock once prices reach Rs 80 per kg. In Andheri, onion continued to be sold at Rs 120-140 per kg.

At Shalimar Hotel in Bhendi Bazaar, Captain Sabir Khan said the management has instructed waiters and chefs to reduce wastage of onions. “Earlier, we would put any quantity of chopped onion into parcel orders. Now we are conscious of how much we give. But we ensure that the customers don’t complain. If they ask for more, we are still serving onions free of cost,” Khan said. Shalimar has a chain of restaurants across Mumbai, with a central procurement unit that makes wholesale purchases for all outlets.

However, some restaurants have continued to use the usual quantity of onions. Parvez Qazi, working with Joey’s Pizza in Andheri West, said even with the sky-high prices, the restaurant did not alter its onion purchases for its pizzas over the last two weeks. “Customers like onions in certain pizzas and we did not reduce the quantity. We continued to buy at a high price. There is a small loss incurred,” he said.