New Delhi: Food inflation fell to 9.03 per cent for the week ended August 6, even as the price of all items barring pulses rose on an annual basis.

Food inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 9.90 per cent in the previous week. The rate of price rise of food items was 14.51 per cent in the first week of August, 2010.

As per data released by government on Thursday, price of pulses became cheaper by 5.63 per cent year-on-year during the week under review. However, all other items continued to remain expensive.

Onions were 37.62 per cent more expensive on an annual basis during the week ended August 6, while prices of fruits went up by 26.46 per cent.

Eggs, meat and fish became dearer by 9.93 per cent and the price of milk was up 9.76 per cent year-on-year.

Cereals and vegetables were up by 6.23 per cent and 2.59 per cent, respectively, while potato prices climbed by 7.22 per cent.

The fall in food inflation numbers could be attributed to a moderation in the rate of price rise of some of the items on a week-on-week basis, even though they continued to grow.

In the previous week ended July 30, the rate of price rise of items like vegetables, potatoes, milk and egg, meat and fish was more on an annual basis in comparison to the week under review.

The decline could also be attributed to the high inflation figure of over 14 per cent for the corresponding year-ago period, a phenomenon dubbed the 'high base effect' in economic parlance.

Overall, primary articles recorded 11.64 per cent inflation for the week ended August 6, down from 12.22 per cent in the previous week. Primary articles have a share of over 20 per cent in the WPI. However, inflation in non-food articles, which include fibres, oil seeds and minerals, went up to 16.07 per cent from 15.05 per cent in the previous week.

Meanwhile, fuel and power inflation stood at 13.13 per cent for the week ended August 6, up from 12.19 per cent in the week ended July 30.

Food inflation was in double digits for most of 2010, but started to moderate from March this year. It fell to 7.33 per cent in mid-July, before again rising to touch a four-and-a-half month high of 9.90 per cent in end-July.

Headline inflation stood at 9.22 per cent in June. The RBI has already hiked interest rates 11 times since March, 2010, to tame demand and curb inflation.

The Reserve Bank and the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council had projected headline inflation to remain high at around 9 per cent till October.

In its Economic Outlook for 2011-12 released earlier this month, the PMEAC said that while pressure from food inflation has fallen in recent months, the rate of price rice still remains quite high, with the possibility of a further surge in coming months.

In his Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that sometimes the reasons for price rise lay outside the country and added that the government's efforts to tame inflation have not met with lasting success.

"The prices of petroleum products, food grains and edible oil have risen steeply in international markets in recent times. Since we import these products in large quantities, any rise in their prices adds to inflationary pressure in our country," Singh said.

Monsoon may ease inflationary pressure: Pranab

Terming over 9 per cent food inflation as "not acceptable",  Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday expressed hope that government policies and a good monsoon will help ease pressure on price front.

"... Food inflation at the level of 9 per cent is not acceptable. I do hope the measures taken to remove supply constraints in some of the agricultural commodities and good monsoon will help to have further moderating influence on the prices of food and other essential commodities," he told reporters here.

His comments came after food inflation fell to 9.03 per cent for the week ended August 6 from 9.90 per cent in the previous week, even though prices of all items, barring pulses, continued to rise on an annual basis.

He said despite food inflation falling from around 22 per cent in February, 2010, it still remains high.

Mukherjee said the international situation was not conducive, especially with regard to high commodity prices.

"International situation is not very favourable. Commodity prices are high, including of fuel. Therefore, the prices of industrial raw material, other commodities and fuels are uncertain," he said.

He said the government is trying to ensure that the rate of inflation moderates. "I hope the monetary policy adopted by the Reserve Bank, along with various measures taken by the (Finance) Ministry... it will be possible to have a moderating influence on the inflationary front," Mukherjee said.

The government has taken various steps to curb the rate of price rise in food items, including a reduction of import duties on wheat, rice and pulses, a ban on the export of non-basmati rice and the suspension of futures trading in rice, urad and tur dal. In addition, the government has extended the stock limit orders for pulses, paddy and rice and reduced import duty on skimmed milk powder, among other measures.

The RBI has hiked interest rates 11 times since March, 2010, to curb inflation. Headline inflation has been above the 9 per cent mark since December last year and stood at 9.22 per cent in July this year.

The fall in food inflation numbers could be attributed to a moderation in the rate of price rise of some of the items on a week-on-week basis, even though they continued to be more expensive on an annual basis.

The decline could also be attributed to the high inflation figure of over 14 per cent for the corresponding year-ago period, a phenomenon dubbed the 'high base effect' in economic parlance.

As per data released by government on Thursday, price of pulses became cheaper by 5.63 per cent year-on-year during the week under review. However, all other items continued to remain expensive.

Overall, primary articles recorded 11.64 per cent inflation for the week ended August 6, down from 12.22 per cent in the previous week.

However, inflation in non-food articles, which include fibres, oil seeds and minerals, went up to 16.07 per cent from 15.05 per cent in the previous week.

(Agencies)