Urban Food Markets and the Lockdown in India

25 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020

See all articles by Sudha Narayanan

Sudha Narayanan

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR)

Shree Saha

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR)

Date Written: May 12, 2020

Abstract

On March 24, 2020, the Government of India announced a 21-day national lockdown that has since been extended to May 3, 2020. The lockdown has left urban food markets in disarray with severe supply bottlenecks and restrictions on doing business. At a time when food prices in India were declining consistently, supply disruptions consequent to the lockdown have reversed the trend. Based on an analysis of publicly available data on wholesale and retail prices for 22 commodities from 114 Centres, we find that prices have increased since the lockdown and show no signs of reverting to the pre-lockdown levels as of April 21, 2020. Average price increases are to the tune of over 6% for several pulses, over 3.5% for most edible oils, 15% for potato 28% for tomato in the 28 days post-lockdown compared to prices during the month preceding the lockdown. We also find that smaller cities have seen a much higher increase in prices with at least a few cities seeing a rise in retail food prices by as much as 20%. A survey of 50 food retailers in 14 cities reveal serious operational challenges associated with sourcing supplies, transportation and police harassment. At the same time, several innovative arrangements have evolved as well. The paper reviews these briefly and outlines some policy concerns.

Keywords: urban food system, retail, wholesale, prices, agrifood supply chain, India

JEL Classification: D12, E31, Q11

Suggested Citation

Narayanan, Sudha and Saha, Shree, Urban Food Markets and the Lockdown in India (May 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3599102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3599102

Sudha Narayanan (Contact Author)

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) ( email )

Gen A.K. Vaidya Marg Santoshnagar
Goregaon (East)
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400065
India

Shree Saha

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) ( email )

Gen A.K. Vaidya Marg Santoshnagar
Goregaon (East)
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400065
India

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