As retail prices of tomato surged to Rs 60-70 per kg in almost all big cities, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said the price volatility was due to lean production season and high perishability of the commodity.
According to the ministry's latest data, retail tomato prices have increased to Rs 60 per kg in metro cities except Chennai on Thursday from around Rs 20 per kg a month ago. In some places, the kitchen staple was being sold at Rs 70-80 per kg.
Tomato was available at Rs 70 per kg in Gurgaon, Gangtok, Siliguri and Raipur, while at Rs 80 per kg in Gorakhpur, Kota and Dimapur.
In producing states too, prices were ruling firm at Rs 37 per kg in Hyderabad, Rs 40 per kg in Chennai and Rs 46 per kg in Bengaluru, the data showed.
Asked about rising prices, Paswan said: "Normally, prices of tomato remain high during July to September due to the lean period. The price volatility is more due to perishability of the commodity."
The prices will come to a normal level once the supply improves, he added.
Experts also said prices of tomato normally shoot up during the lean period and the last five year's data show the same trend.
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are states with deficit tomato production in the country. They depend on surplus producing states for supplies.
The country produces about 19.73 million tonnes of tomato annually, while the consumption is about 11.51 million tonnes, as per the official data.