It might be unusual to imagine how a simple commodity of everyday life can suddenly become a luxury item, but in India, the humble onion has become just that.
For many, the price of onions is now so high, a key ingredient in many a dish is being omitted. Food experts and chefs are offering alternative recipes so that families might be able to find alternatives. Accusations of people hoarding onion stocks are constant, with the price reaching over 100 Rupees per kilo, little over a pound or a euro, per kilo.
The Competition Commission of India is investigating if cartelisation is making the commodity expensive, having monitored the onion market for some time. Although still under scrutiny, a study last year by the Commission showed “clear imperfections, including cartelisation and hoarding, which impact the price of onions”, concluding that “Results of seasonal indices, correlations, daily, monthly arrivals, their prices, etc, indicated existence of anti-competitive elements in the onion markets”.
The Indian government says incessant rains have destroyed crops in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, normally rich in supply.
But the humble onion may go beyond the apparent, as is now seems that there could be another hidden skin the war on prices, as food and supplies is also a political tool, where parties battle over promises and losses, with price and demand key to life itself.
As Indian tourists celebrate dining on onions whilst eating abroad, back home the picture is a very different one, but with expectations that the situation may ease in a matter of days, the time to send supplies has not yet been reached, but if there is no change, the tears of diners may be real, whereas the rest of the world may start to realise that the onion is craved in other parts of the globe.