The spike in food prices, especially lentils, is hurting poorer households. Food inflation has become a critical issue in India. Official data showed that surging food costs led retail inflation in the country to accelerate to its fastest in 15 months. Consumer prices increased by 5.6% compared to a year earlier. Within the consumer price index, food prices jumped 6.4% in December from a year ago, driven by a 46% surge in the price of pulses, including lentils. The spike in the prices of pulses has been blamed on insufficient monsoon rains and delays to the sowing of the winter crop, which have reduced supply. But hoarding of supplies by some traders to artificially drive up rates are also widely considered to be a factor in the surge in prices. Pulses are a staple of the Indian diet and any rise in costs hits the poor particularly hard.