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What individuals spend on a monthly food basket

By Rahul Goswami

Though the amounts spent on cereals are largely the same, there are clear differences between the spending of rural and urban consumers on milk and milk products, sugar and oil. Urban consumers spend 104% more than rural consumers on beverages, refreshments and processed foods

The nutritional intake of an individual and of a household can be gauged from the data provided through a reading of one of the first reports from the 66th Round of the National Sample Survey Office. 'Key Indicators of Household Consumer Expenditure in India 2009-10' has collected and presented the findings of the 66th Round, that is, July 2009-June 2010. The accompanying table is comprehensive for a 'national' average indicator of monthly per capita expenditure on -- and consumption of -- a basket of 142 food items in 11 categories. This 'national' average is provided for rural and urban consumers. The salient inferences drawn from this data are:

  • Within the cereals group, for both rural and urban household members alike, rice and wheat dominate consumption. For a rural resident, total rice consumption in a month (both PDS rice and open market rice) is just over 6 kg, while wheat/atta (PDS and open market) is 4.24 kg. For an urban resident, total rice consumption in a month (both PDS rice and open market rice) is just over 4.52 kg, while wheat/atta (PDS and open market) is 4.07 kg. In both categories of consumer, the top five cereal items account for around 92% of the total monthly expenditure on cereals. Total consumption of cereals by the rural resident is 11.34 kg, more than the 9.37 kg for the urban resident. The urban consumer paid, in 2009-2010, Rs 161 for cereals in a month while the rural consumer paid Rs 144 for her monthly cereal quantities.
  • In the pulses and pulses products category, arhar/tur is the most common dal. The rural consumer bought 0.16 kg of arhar/tur spending Rs 11.5 a month while the urban consumer bought 0.26 kg of arhar/tur spending Rs 20.1 a month. Moong, masur and urad are the next most commonly used pulses and these three, in combination with arhar/tur, account for 72% and 77% respectively for rural and urban consumers of the total monthly expense on pulses and pulses products. As an average, the urban consumer pays about Rs 14 more (40% more than the rural) for about 0.13 kg more (21% more than the rural) on pulses and pulses products. Cereals are usually a person's staple food in India. But sometimes, by choice or due to scarcity, a person may consume little or no cereal. The food requirement is partially or wholly met in such cases by consumption of food items which could be treated as substitutes for cereals. Tapioca, for example, is consumed in some parts of the country as a substitute for cereals. Similarly, jackfruit seed, mahua, etc, are also consumed as substitutes for cereals.
  • It is in milk and milk products that we see the largest difference between the rural and urban consumer. The rural consumer paid Rs 76.1 for 4.1 litres of milk a month, while the urban consumer paid Rs 119.4 for 5.3 litres of milk a month -- Rs 43 more for an additional 1.2 litres. While the rural resident consumed 0.01 kg of ghee (costing Rs 2.8) per month, the urban resident consumed 0.04 kg which cost Rs 11.5, a difference of over Rs 8.7 per month. For both consumer categories, liquid milk and ghee accounted for 98% and 95% (rural and urban) expenditure on milk and milk products. However, the urban consumer spent over Rs 56 more (70% more) than the rural consumer on milk and milk products.
  • Sugar is consumed in greater quantity by the urban consumer (0.7 kg) than the rural (0.56 kg), with total monthly expenditure on sugar and sugar-bearing products (including gur and honey) being Rs 22.6 for the rural and Rs 27.1 for the urban consumer.
  • The difference in edible oil consumption is considerable between urban and rural. The urban consumer bought 0.4 kg of edible oil costing Rs 25.1 and this expenditure was 47% of the total on edible oils amounting to 0.81 kg. The rural consumer bought 0.28 kg and 0.24 kg of mustard oil and edible oil, altogether spending Rs 38.9 on oils amounting to 0.63 kg. Thus, the urban consumer spent 35% more on oils that were 0.18 kg more by weight.
  • On animal protein (mainly eggs, fish and meat) the urban consumer spent Rs 71.9 a month which was Rs 22 more than the Rs 49.8 spent by the rural consumer on these foods. Fish/prawn was the most common source of animal protein with the urban consumer having bought 0.23 kg and the rural consumer having bought 0.26 kg. The urban consumer bought more chicken (0.18 kg) than the rural (0.12 kg), more goat meat (0.09 kg compared with 0.04 kg) and more eggs (eight compared with five).
  • The rural consumer bought about 1 kg more of vegetables than the urban consumer (8 kg and 7 kg) in a month, but for both categories the bulk of this weight was potato, onion, tomato, brinjal, cauliflower, palak and lady's finger. For both consumer categories, the top four vegetables by value accounted for 49% and 43% (rural and urban) of the total monthly expenditure on vegetables. However, the urban consumer paid Rs 25 more (28.7% more) than the rural consumer for 12% less vegetables by weight.
  • The difference in fresh fruit consumption between urban and rural consumer is conspicuous from total monthly expenditure (weights are difficult to standardise in this food category). Bananas accounted for 28% and 24% of rural and urban monthly spending on the food category. The urban consumer spent Rs 29.9 more per month (147% more) with markedly more being spent on apples and mangoes.
  • The 'beverages' food category stands for 'beverages, refreshments and processed food'. It includes tea, coffee, mineral water, soft drinks, fruit juice (not prepared at home), soda water, other beverages such as cocoa, biscuits, cakes, pastries, pickles, sauce, jam, jelly, and other salted refreshments and sweets not prepared at home. Food purchased in the form of cooked meals is also included in 'processed food'. Urban monthly per capita expenditure on this category was Rs 159.3 and Rs 81.4 more (104% more) than rural expenditure (Rs 77.9). The top five items of consumption by value for the urban consumer were cooked meals purchased, cups of tea, tea leaf, other processed food and biscuits. For the rural consumer, the top five items by value were cooked meals received as assistance or payment, tea leaf, cups of tea, biscuits and other processed food. For both rural and urban consumers the spending on the top five items was 71% (rural) and 68% (urban) of total monthly expenditure on this food category.

(Rahul Goswami researches rural economies with a focus on agro-ecology. He is a consultant with the National Agricultural Innovation Project, Ministry of Agriculture, and is an examiner for UNESCO's Culture Sector, on intangible cultural heritage. He writes on issues concerning food and energy)

Monthly per capita quantity and value of consumption of food items, all-India
Rural     Urban    
Food item Rupees Quantity kg/litre Food item Rupees Quantity kg/litre
Cereal
Rice — other sources 76.81 4.594 Rice — other sources 84.41 3.706
Wheat/atta — other sources 44.64 3.625 Wheat/atta — other sources 56.07 3.706
Rice — PDS 4.89 1.408 Bread: bakery 3.00 0.091
Jowar and its products 3.42 0.292 Rice — PDS 2.48 0.814
Wheat/atta — PDS 2.99 0.619 Jowar and its products 2.47 0.184
Bajra and its products 2.64 0.255 Wheat/atta — PDS 2.38 0.371
Maize and its products 2.10 0.199 Suji, rawa 2.26 0.098
Muri 1.49 0.061 Chira 1.52 0.063
Chira 1.19 0.06 Muri 1.16 0.045
Suji, rawa 1.10 0.052 Sewai, noodles 1.13 0.021
Ragi and its products 0.97 0.092 Bajra and its products 1.11 0.094
Bread: bakery 0.79 0.023 Maida 1.02 0.051
Maida 0.53 0.03 Ragi and its products 0.92 0.074
Other rice products 0.32 0.015 Other rice products 0.53 0.024
Sewai, noodles 0.23 0.006 Maize and its products 0.26 0.021
Other cereals 0.10 0.004 Other cereals 0.19 0.004
Other wheat products 0.08 0.004 Other wheat products 0.11 0.003
Small millets and their products 0.08 0.006 Khoi, lawa 0.08 0.003
Khoi, lawa 0.06 0.002 Small millets and their products 0.05 0.001
Barley and its products 0.03 0.003 Barley and its products 0.01 0.001
  144.44 11.349   161.17 9.374
Pulses and pulses products
Arhar, tur 11.54 0.163 Arhar, tur 20.10 0.264
Moong 4.86 0.073 Moong 7.35 0.104
Masur 4.83 0.079 Urad 5.68 0.09
Urad 4.07 0.072 Masur 4.98 0.078
Gram: split 2.91 0.077 Gram: split 3.24 0.079
Besan 1.55 0.038 Besan 2.48 0.058
Peas 1.51 0.057 Gram: whole 1.65 0.039
Other pulses 1.33 0.03 Other pulses 1.46 0.027
Gram: whole 1.19 0.033 Other pulses products 0.87 0.014
Cereal substitutes: tapioca, etc 0.68 0.037 Peas 0.82 0.025
Other pulses products 0.56 0.01 Cereal substitutes: tapioca, etc 0.77 0.025
Khesari 0.43 0.013 Gram products 0.41 0.009
Gram products 0.24 0.005 Khesari 0.07 0.002
  35.03 0.651   49.12 0.788
Milk and milk products
Milk: liquid (litre) 76.16 4.117 Milk: liquid (litre) 119.43 5.358
Ghee 2.88 0.011 Ghee 11.59 0.046
Milk: condensed/powder 0.51 0.003 Curd 1.46 0.048
Curd 0.41 0.015 Ice-cream 1.17 -
Baby food 0.28 0.001 Baby food 1.05 0.006
Other milk products 0.18 - Milk: condensed/powder 0.88 0.005
Ice-cream 0.10 - Other milk products 0.88 -
Butter 0.03 0 Butter 0.57 0.003
  80.55     137.01  
Sugar
Sugar — other sources 19.65 0.563 Sugar — other sources 24.31 0.7
Gur 1.48 0.043 Gur 1.40 0.039
Sugar — PDS 1.40 0.097 Sugar — PDS 1.15 0.08
Candy, misri 0.05 0.001 Honey 0.26 0.001
Honey 0.03 0 Candy, misri 0.05 0.001
  22.61 0.705   27.16 0.821
Edible oil
Mustard oil 18.94 0.287 Edible oil: others 25.13 0.408
Edible oil: others 13.36 0.243 Mustard oil 15.32 0.23
Groundnut oil 3.69 0.054 Groundnut oil 9.13 0.126
Salt 2.05 0.261 Salt 2.33 0.245
Vanaspati, margarine 1.99 0.036 Vanaspati, margarine 2.12 0.036
Coconut oil 0.94 0.016 Coconut oil 1.15 0.018
  38.92 0.636   52.85 0.818
Eggs, fish and meat
Fish, prawn 18.81 0.269 Fish, prawn 20.74 0.238
Chicken 12.66 0.123 Chicken 19.23 0.18
Goat meat/mutton 8.74 0.047 Goat meat/mutton 18.66 0.091
Eggs (number) 5.35 1.733 Eggs (number) 8.15 2.674
Beef/buffalo meat 3.10 0.037 Beef/buffalo meat 4.42 0.051
Pork 0.86 0.008 Pork 0.58 0.005
Others: birds, crab, oyster, tortoise, etc 0.38 0.005 Others: birds, crab, oyster, tortoise, etc 0.20 0.002
  49.89 -   71.98 -
Vegetables
Potato 18.40 1.666 Potato 17.29 1.368
Onion 10.89 0.741 Onion 13.34 0.854
Tomato 7.47 0.537 Tomato 11.66 0.757
Brinjal 6.42 0.518 Brinjal 6.86 0.441
Palak/other leafy vegetables 5.84 0.605 Palak/other leafy vegetables 6.76 0.497
Chillies: green 4.09 0.145 Cauliflower 5.92 0.362
Other vegetables 3.94 0.284 Lady's finger 5.86 0.282
Cauliflower 3.53 0.302 Other vegetables 4.90 0.27
Lady's finger 3.13 0.202 Cabbage 4.60 0.337
Gourd 2.95 0.302 Chillies: green 4.42 0.148
Cabbage 2.90 0.275 Gourd 3.70 0.284
Jhinga, torai 2.48 0.209 Lemon (number) 3.00 1.72
Pumpkin 2.21 0.25 Cucumber 2.93 0.208
Cucumber 1.57 0.136 Carrot 2.77 0.153
Radish 1.43 0.186 Bitter gourd 2.56 0.117
Bitter gourd 1.43 0.08 Jhinga, torai 2.44 0.148
Parwal, patal 1.42 0.097 French beans, barbate 2.07 0.092
French beans, barbati 1.20 0.073 Peas 2.02 0.09
Lemon (number) 1.19 1.27 Pumpkin 1.89 0.166
Carrot 1.08 0.073 Radish 1.79 0.176
Peas 0.88 0.05 Parwal, patal 1.68 0.087
Arum 0.86 0.063 Arum 0.84 0.046
Papaya: green 0.70 0.085 Beet 0.66 0.036
Plantain: green 0.30 0.022 Capsicum 0.65 0.021
Snake gourd 0.29 0.022 Snake gourd 0.58 0.036
Jackfruit: green 0.23 0.024 Papaya: green 0.43 0.039
Beet 0.20 0.013 Plantain: green 0.34 0.02
Sweet potato 0.13 0.01 Jackfruit: green 0.24 0.015
Capsicum 0.11 0.005 Sweet potato 0.15 0.009
Turnip 0.07 0.006 Turnip 0.11 0.008
Fresh fruit
Banana (number) 5.88 3.86 Banana (number) 12.18 6.65
Coconut (number) 2.79 0.456 Apple 12.09 0.158
Apple 2.73 0.045 Mango 5.52 0.158
Mango 2.54 0.108 Coconut (number) 4.15 0.628
Grapes 1.23 0.026 Grapes 3.51 0.073
Orange, mausambi (number) 1.05 0.364 Orange/mausambi (number) 3.20 0.86
Other fresh fruits 1.05 - Other fresh fruits 2.67 -
Guava 1.00 0.07 Guava 1.62 0.087
Watermelon 0.58 0.072 Papaya 1.55 0.079
Coconut green (number) 0.41 0.057 Coconut: green (number) 1.07 0.11
Papaya 0.38 0.027 Watermelon 1.05 0.094
Kharbooza 0.21 0.023 Kharbooza 0.57 0.032
Pineapple (number) 0.12 0.012 Pineapple (number) 0.41 0.025
Singara 0.10 0.007 Leechi 0.25 0.004
Jackfruit 0.07 0.014 Pear/naspati 0.23 0.006
Pear/naspati 0.07 0.003 Singara 0.13 0.007
Berries 0.07 0.005 Berries 0.08 0.004
Leechi 0.06 0.002 Jackfruit 0.05 0.007
  20.36 -   50.33 -
Dry fruit
Groundnut 2.52 0.05 Groundnut 3.72 0.067
Coconut: copra 0.80 0.012 Cashewnut 2.41 0.007
Raisin, kishmish, monacca, etc 0.63 0.004 Raisin, kishmish, monacca, etc 1.54 0.008
Other dry fruits 0.51 0.003 Other dry fruits 1.47 0.007
Cashewnut 0.33 0.001 Coconut: copra 1.41 0.02
Dates 0.29 0.005 Dates 1.00 0.012
Walnut 0.07 0.001 Other nuts 0.52 0.002
Other nuts 0.06 0 Walnut 0.38 0.001
  5.21 0.074   12.43 0.123
Spices
Other spices (gm) 8.31 62.1 Other spices (gm) 9.90 67.1
Dry chillies (gm) 6.71 72.6 Dry chillies (gm) 7.50 76.1
Turmeric (gm) 5.95 50.5 Turmeric (gm) 6.26 50
Garlic (gm) 5.00 75.3 Garlic (gm) 6.08 83.4
Ginger (gm) 2.76 42.7 Ginger (gm) 4.06 60.6
Curry powder (gm) 2.38 17.8 Curry powder (gm) 3.96 26.7
Tamarind (gm) 1.58 32.7 Tamarind (gm) 2.28 43.4
Oilseeds (gm) 1.37 18.7 Black pepper (gm) 2.10 11.4
Black pepper (gm) 1.31 7.3 Oilseeds (gm) 1.71 20.7
  35.37 379.7   43.86 439.3
Beverages/refreshments, etc
Cooked meals received as assistance or payment (number) 15.04 2.04 Cooked meals purchased (number) 35.65 1.4
Tea: leaf (gm) 13.34 75.1 Tea: cups (number) 20.93 6.39
Tea: cups (number) 9.89 3.77 Tea: leaf (gm) 18.61 93.6
Biscuits 9.70 - Other processed food 17.48 -
Other processed food 7.58 - Biscuits 17.18 -
Cooked meals purchased (number) 7.46 0.35 Prepared sweets 10.77 -
Prepared sweets 5.39 - Salted refreshments 10.57 0.113
Salted refreshments 5.34 0.069 Cooked meals received as assistance or payment (number) 9.99 0.94
Other beverages: cocoa, chocolate, etc 1.09 - Fruit juice and shakes (litre) 3.63 0.075
Pickles (gm) 0.68 8.08 Cold beverages: bottled/canned (litre) 3.27 0.092
Cold beverages: bottled/canned (litre) 0.66 0.02 Other beverages: cocoa, chocolate, etc 3.16 -
Coffee: powder (gm) 0.62 3.07 Coffee: powder (gm) 2.18 7.43
Cake, pastry 0.48 0.006 Pickles (gm) 1.52 14.3
Fruit juice and shakes (litre) 0.33 0.008 Cake, pastry 1.51 0.013
Coffee: cups (number) 0.14 0.044 Mineral water (litre) 1.09 0.348
Mineral water (litre) 0.06 0.019 Coffee: cups (number) 0.84 0.184
Jam, jelly (gm) 0.06 0.54 Sauce (gm) 0.56 4.68
Sauce (gm) 0.04 0.34 Jam, jelly (gm) 0.45 3
  77.92     159.37  
Source: 'Nutrient Requirements and Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians'
NSS 66th Round (July 2009-June 2010), National Sample Survey Office, Government of India

 

Low-cost Indian vegetarian diet        
Food composition Amount g/d Protein content (g) Other nutrients    
Cereals and millets 460 46 Calories (kcal) 2,736  
Pulses (legumes) 40 9.5 Proteins (g) 65  
Green leafy vegetables 50 4 Calcium (mg) 781  
Other vegetables 60 Iron (mg) 17  
Roots and tubers 50 Vitamin A (ìg) 715  
Fruits 30 Riboflavin (mg) 1.15  
Milk 150 5.7 Thiamine (mg) 2.45  
Fats and oils 40   Vitamin C (mg) 74.8  
Sugar and jaggery 30   Niacin (mg) 15.7  
      Total fat (g) 67  
Fruits: Additionally included        
Proteins: Protein content depends on the type of protein-containing food    
Source: 'Nutrient Requirements and Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians',
A Report of the Expert Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research, 2009, National Institute of Nutrition (pg 112, Annexure 5.1)

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