In fact, there is significant reason to believe that the margins between wholesale and retail prices of many important food items have increased in the recent period. (See MacroScan, Businessline, 23 February 2010)
The point is that this has been happening in a period of increased corporate involvement in food distribution and food retail.
The share of corporate retail in food distribution in the country as a whole is estimated to have tripled in the past four years, and has grown even faster in major metros and other large cities. And this is also the period when retail food prices have shown the greatest increase!
Also, retail margins tend to be the lowest in the states (like Tamil Nadu and Kerala) where there is an extensive, well-developed and reasonably efficient system of public distribution that provides a range of food items on a near universal basis to the population.
In regions where such a public distribution system is weak or non-existent (such as Utter Pradesh and Bihar) the margins tend to be much higher and growing faster, even though corporate food retailing in such regions has been expanding.
Image: An elderly Assamese farmer seen in the village of Mayong, about 50 kilometres east of Guwahati.