Rising prices force consumers to adapt | Local company

A year ago, a consumer paid $241 for 16 basic groceries; Fast forward to a year later, the same items now cost $279, which is an increase of $38, or 15.7%.

The Sunday Express did the comparison for March 31, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

Frozen chicken prices have risen by five dollars in some supermarkets.

While a 454g piece of cheddar cheese cost $24.20 in March last year, it is now $26.95 and $27.21 in some supermarkets.

The Cuisine 900ml Soybean Oil, which was priced between $16.95 and $18.95, jumped to $21.25 and $22.67.

Target 340g corned beef that cost between $15 and $18.95 went from $22.50 to $24.50 for the same period.

Ibis 2kg flour went from $12.95 and $13.25 to $14.95 and $15.50.

This was due to price increases at majority state-owned National Flour Mills (NFM) in December 2021 and flour producer Nutrimix in January 2022.

The 400g Swiss macaroni now sits at $5.75 from $4.99 in 2021, while the 106g Brunswick sardine in oil has remained at its average price of $9.95 and $10.50.

Dairy Dairy 800g Milk Powder also remained at $57.95, along with Chief Curry Powder between $6.99 and $7.99.

Families change their eating habits

The Sunday Express spoke to a few consumers who said their family’s eating habits needed to change in order to keep a reasonable food bill.

Patricia Thomas from Arouca said rising food prices forced her to shop at various supermarkets for better deals, while going to the actual supplier to get the cheaper item or product.

“I have two teenagers and with the rising price of bread, I make bread to last longer in my house, as you know teenagers love their bread. In order to reduce your food bill, you have to look for the best deals as the cost of living as a whole has gone up and the Value Added Tax (VAT) which was removed on basic groceries last year really hasn’t made a difference to your bill groceries,” said Thomas.

Catherine George from South Oropouche, with a family of three, said she was now researching which brand of product or item was the cheapest to buy.

“Before, it wouldn’t matter, but with prices going up everywhere, you have to make smart decisions about how you spend in the supermarket. I only buy a luxury food item when I have it. need, but other than that I stick to the items I need to restock on a monthly basis,” George said.

Richard Sheppard of Belmont, with a family of two, said he and his wife have changed their eating habits and eat less meat.

He said rising food prices certainly could not be helped due to the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“Adjusting to change is necessary as we are not in normal times, so everyone just has to buy what is needed, and once in a while when your pocket can afford, treat your household to one or two luxury items. People also need to do more vegetable gardens to reduce their food bill,” Sheppard added.

“Inevitable increase”

Rajiv Diptee, from the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago, said that while supermarkets were dealing with the various effects caused by Covid-19, it was further exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, which is disrupting grocery chains. supply, as well as the problem of access to currencies. .

“The volatility of food prices is very uncertain, given that we have no idea when the war will end, and this is a major concern. Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of the world’s wheat supply,” he said.

Diptee pointed out that the Ministry of Trade and Industry said last week that the government was implementing a $500 million agricultural stimulus package, and the association hopes projects have already been identified to create import substitution of some kind.

“We look forward to learning more about this, as it is something the association has said is essential to reducing our reliance on imports. We also expect to see more constraints on the supply chain. for the rest of the year, so this government decision needs to be made as soon as possible,” Diptee remarked.

Last Wednesday, the price of a basket of 118 basic food items increased by 9.7% between February 2020 and February 2022, according to a comprehensive assessment by the Consumer Division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The ministry pointed out that rising wheat prices will have a domino effect on the price of grain, animal feed, poultry and dairy products. And he said the two local flour producing houses were receiving stock, and further shipments (at higher prices) were due to arrive. These companies will review over the next few months whether price increases may be necessary.

The ministry said its Consumer Division estimated that locally the price of flour increased by 16% over the period from February 2020 to February 2022.

Also last Friday, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported that the retail food and non-alcoholic beverage price index increased by 127% between December 2021 and 128.1 in January 2022. It noted that significant contributor to this increase was the general upward movement in the prices of fresh caritas, whole milk powder, parboiled rice, white flour, fresh trevally, carrots, eddoes, snacks, other chilled or frozen chicken (in pieces) and cucumber.

However, the full impact of these price increases was offset by the general price reduction of tomatoes, pumpkin, chives, other fruit drinks (not orange), fresh beef, beef steak, fresh beef, soft drinks, potatoes, apples and salted pigtails.