Picnickers throng Jonha Falls in Ranchi on New Year’s Day. (Hardeep Singh)
Costly New Year! Be it a rich picnic dish of gravy mutton or a spicy home-cooked Chicken 65 to go with the cocktails, feasting is proving expensive this season as meat, poultry and fish sellers have upped prices by around 10-15 per cent in the capital to cash in on ongoing festivities.
In Jamshedpur, however, only mutton and chicken became pricier on Day One of 2013. The cost of eggs and fish stayed unaffected on Tuesday.
In the capital, mutton sold for Rs 300-Rs 320 per kg, up from Rs 250-260 per kg. Chicken sold for Rs 120 per kg, a flat Rs 30 hike. Likewise, egg which used to sell at Rs 48 per dozen, touched Rs 55. Fish also jumped from Rs 120 to Rs 140-150 per kg.
In Jamshedpur, mutton sold for Rs 360 per kg instead of Rs 320-340 a couple of days ago. Chicken, selling at Rs 100 per kg till December 28, 2012, was available on Tuesday at Rs 120 per kg. Fish sold for Rs 120-Rs 140 per kg depending on size while eggs sold for Rs 54 per dozen, the same as last week.
In both cities, most New Year revellers are non-vegetarian. To add to that, extreme winter chill has also hiked non-veg consumption — as well as in most homes.
But Ranchi, it seems, loves its fish and eggs as much as mutton and chicken. Demand and prices are high for fish and eggs unlike in Jamshedpur.
Long queues were noticed at shops in the four main non-veg hubs of the capital — Lalpur, Bahu Bazar, Daily Market and Doranda — that sell meat, chicken or fish. With demand skyrocketing, northward prices are a natural corollary.
“It is the year-end as well as New Year hike in non-veg items. Sellers know when to cash in on festive occasions,” said New Year reveller Ranjan Choudhary, a businessman and resident of Kanke Road. “This is the time of the year when people love to eat and treat.”
Though non-veg item sellers don’t have any formal association or union, almost all appear to have teamed up and hiked the tariff. In the absence of a regulatory body to monitor prices, no one knows if the new rates will persist or slide down to normal.
Capital sellers source goats from Chanho, Mandar, Jonha and others. Chicken is mostly home-reared in Ranchi, Gumla, Khunti and Lohardaga. Fish market depends on breeders in Bundu, Tamar, Chanho, Mandar and Pithoria and Andhra Pradesh for imports.
“We get goat and chicken at a costlier rate from poultry farmers and hence are forced to increase prices. We have no option,” said Md Shakil, a Bahu Bazar butcher in Ranchi.
“More people are consuming fish during the New Year festive season but supply is limited. Naturally, prices are up. But as the days progress, cost will climb down,” Raju Nishad, a Daily Market fish wholesaler, offered hope.
But he as well as others added that the hike was likely to stay for a month.
In Jamshedpur, meat shops ordered more livestock to meet the needs of New Year foodies. A Sakchi butcher said he slaughtered 30 goats and sold mutton for Rs 360 per kg instead of Rs 320-340 a couple of days ago. S. Karmakar, owner of a well-known meat shop at Bagbera, added that in the absence of wholesalers, they could take initiative to arrange extra stocks. “We sold over 70 goats in the last two days,” he said.
Like Ranchi, Jamshedpur also gets goats from suppliers in interiors such as Potka and Patamda.
Chicken, which upped its cost per kg by Rs 20 over the weekend, depended on supplies from Jhargram and Bankura in Bengal. Local hatcheries at Hata and Dimna also supply poultry products to Sakchi, Bistupur and others.
What was the costliest item in your New Year lunch?