Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 8:
The ever-increasing prices of chicken and onion have put hotel owners in Odisha in a classic Catch 22 situation: they can neither absorb the huge loss nor afford to raise prices of chicken dishes for fear that consumers would not have the stuff than pay the extra bucks.
Chicken prices have gone up more than Rs 30 per kilo within the past couple of weeks. While it used to sell for Rs 120 per kilogram two weeks back, now it costs about Rs 150 a kilogram. The larger cuts of chicken pieces made for Biriyani and Chilli Chicken are selling for Rs 250 per kilogram.
Similarly, onion, which is an essential ingredient in any Odia cuisine and more so in preparation of chicken dishes, is selling for Rs 30 per kilo. This is almost Rs 10 extra than its price two weeks back.
Hotel owners, however, are not in a position to pass on the extra cost to their customers, who are already miffed with the high prices of food. The stiff market competition doesn’t help either.
While some hotel owners have stopped giving the complimentary onion with the meal and have decreased the quantity of chicken served on the plate, unhappy customers frequently protest. Most others silently absorb the losses.
The condition of restaurant owners is even worse as they have to deal with the hiked service tax along with food inflation.
“The service tax was hiked very recently. Now, we have to deal with increased price of chicken and onion. Given chicken is among the most preferred dish in restaurants, we are left with no choice but to lose money. A sudden and steep price correction that is required for us to deal with the losses would affect the customers and would hit our business. As of now, we are avoiding a price hike, but would have to go for it if the prices don’t come down,” said a restaurant owner of Bhubaneswar.