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Fresh vegetables costlier than packaged foods: ASSOCHAM

Rise in prices of vegetables and fruits have prompted nearly 60 per cent of middle and low-income groups to switch over to ready-to-eat food items to keep the kitchen budget intact, says a survey.

According to the survey by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the supply of tomato has been affected as the rains in the producing states hit supply. This has led to rise in tomato prices by 300 per cent, the survey said.

“Majority of lower-income and middle-income groups find it difficult to manage the household budget and prefer to have ready-to-eat food than buying vegetables at exorbitant rates,” Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said.

However, nutritionists and doctors have a word of caution.

Processed food may seem accessible and easy to heat and devour, but they say it may contain harmful chemicals as preservatives that may hinder the absorption of essential nutrients in the body and may lead to early onset of neuro-degenerative disorders.

Dr Anvesha Mahendra, clinical nutritionist of Cloudnine Hospital said that high salt and sugar content in canned foods may concentrate in the body and lead to malabsorption of vitamins and minerals.

“The prices of most of the widely consumed vegetables have shot up in the last two weeks and it has seriously hit the middle class in the metro cities,” said D S Rawat. The chamber claimed it has surveyed over 5,000 people in various cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Pune.

The Assocham survey said the salary of an average common man has gone up by 15 per cent in the past three years, but the prices of vegetables have shot up by 250-300 per cent.

Source: The New Indian Express