The sharp 37 per cent fall in wholesale potato prices in West Bengal over the last fortnight seems to have offered retail traders an opportunity to make some extra bucks.
A preliminary estimate of retail prices across the State show that the trade has passed merely half of the benefit on to end consumers.
The average retail price for the sorted and graded variety of the tuber in the various markets across the State is ruling at Rs 6-10 a kg against Rs 8-10 till about a fortnight ago.
The wholesale price of the tuber is hovering around Rs 240-280 a quintal on Friday against Rs 350 a quintal a fortnight ago.
The price crash in the wholesale market is mainly on account of the oversupply of potatoes and the arrival of new potatoes in the market, senior industry officials said.
The total cost of transporting potatoes from cold storage to a retailer works out to about Rs 100 a quintal, which includes the transportation and loading and unloading charges and the margin that a wholesaler sets aside for himself. So the effective cost price for a retailer works out to about Rs 340-380 a quintal, said Mr Patit Paban De, member, West Bengal Cold Storage Association.
Going by this calculation, the average price of the tuber should not exceed Rs 5-5.50 a kg in the retail market, Mr De pointed out.
However, the average price of potatoes at the Garia Market in south Kolkata on Friday was around Rs 7 a kg.
“We have to pay a very high cost to procure these potatoes. It is not possible for us to sell at rates lower than this,” said a potato vendor in the market.
According to Mr Arup Roy, Agriculture Marketing Minister, West Bengal, there was no basis for such high prices in the retail market mainly when the prices in the wholesale markets was ruling so low.
“The middlemen have been jacking up prices without any logic,” Mr Roy said.
Hindu Business Line