Consumers are already having to cope with increased mortgage costs, rising food prices and petrol smashing through the £5-a-gallon mark. Curry houses across the Midlands have an added problem - the increased cost of the industry's favourite type of rice.
Basmati rice, grown only in the foothills of the Himalayas, is the preferred type for most of the region's restaurants. It is also popular with households in the West Midlands.
But according to the Tilda Basmati Report: 2008 Market Outlook, published today, global demand for the rice has outstripped supply, resulting in steep price increases.
Rice producers Tilda, which labelled Birmingham as one of the largest Basmati consuming areas of the UK, said price rises were also the result of political instability in Pakistan, poor weather and harvests, and greater expenses faced by farmers to cultivate crops because of escalating oil, freight and labour costs. Traditional Basmati farmers were also switching to biofuels or other types of rice which are easier to grow.
As a result, the report said, shoppers had experienced the cost of its 20kg bags of Tilda Pure Basmati rising from £22 to more than £30 in the past year. Its 1kg packs have risen from £2.79 to £3.35.
Yesterday, Tarun Arora, manager of the Milan Indian Cuisine Restaurant in Newhall Street, Birmingham, said most of the Asian restaurants in the region were affected by the price increases. Not only were customers thinking of reducing restaurant visits because of the credit crunch but increases in the cost of foods, including vegetable oil, had added to the industry's concerns.
"It has slowly been going on for the last two to three months. Prices shot up a lot including Tilda, which has gone up to around £36 when it used to be £24," he said.
"It is the only rice we do. We don't do any other rice because it is the best quality. Most restaurants serve Basmati rice.
"The other is long-grain - the American one - but that is not usually used in restaurants.
"This problem is the same as well with oil. Where vegetable oil used to cost £7 onwards, 20 litres now costs between £15 to £16. It might get back to normal because India has had a bumper crop this year for wheat and rice." In 2006, the Basmati harvest reached record prices at auction - up 55 per cent year-on-year and unusually, there was no correction with the 2007 crop.
As a result, the wholesale cost of Basmati has doubled and concerns for supplies have pushed the EU import price of traditional Basmati up 100 per cent.
India's imposition of a Minimum Export Price for Basmati rice of $1,200 per tonne has also contributed to higher trading prices.
R Srinivasan Seshadri, director of Tilda's operation in India, said: "In the UK, an additional 1.5 million households have purchased Basmati rice in the last four years, fed by our love affair with Indian food. Basmati now accounts for nearly half of the rice consumed in the UK and consumers in Europe, America, the Middle East and India's growing middle class also have a growing taste for it.
"Growing demand and shrinking supply combined with soaring production and distribution costs are simultaneously conspiring to create a 'perfect storm' of high Basmati prices, which inevitably must be passed on to consumers."
Jonathan Callard, Tilda's head of external affairs, added: "Although prices are higher than consumers have become used to, they can be reassured that farmers are benefiting from them, which is vital as they will continue to grow Basmati."