Will the price of food ever go down? That’s the question on everybody’s mind, as the cost of basic staples continues to escalate.
The Consumer Price Index in a report released on Tuesday said that food prices increased by 12.1 percent in just twelve months.
Take for instance the index for Oils and Fats rose which the CPI said rose by 27.5% with average price increases of Fresh Butter and Soya Oil contributing to these large increases.
The index for Sugars, Jams, Honey, Chocolate, and Confectionery rose 21.2% over the year. The index for Sugar increased 27.8% over the same period while the index for Edible Ice Cream and Sorbet rose 16.3%.
The index for Food Products rose by 19.8% and the index for Meat and Meat Products increased by 15.2%. The remaining food groups posted changes ranging from -3.4% (Fruit) to 12.9% (Bread and Cereals).
The Index for All Items Less Food and Energy rose 8.5%, a slightly larger increase than the 8.1% increase in November 2022.
The index was similarly affected as the November index. It was impacted by a larger increase in the index for Transport Services which rose from 34.6% to 41.7%
They said the Monthly Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% for the month ending December 2022.
The Food Index increased by 1.1% in December 2022 following 0.8% in November. Six of the nine major supermarket food group indexes increased over the month.
The index for Sugars, Jams, Honey, Chocolate, and Confectionery rose 7.9% and the index for Sugar rose 16.6%.
The index for Fish and Seafood increased by 5.7% in December as both the indexes for Fresh Chilled or Frozen Fish Seafood and Preserved or Processed Fish and Seafood increased by 15.6% and 2.2% respectively.
The remaining food groups’ increases ranged from 0.4% (Bread and Cereals) to 2.5% (Vegetables).
In contrast, the Meat and Meat Products index fell 2.0% with the indexes for Poultry falling 6.0%, Lamb, Mutton, and Goat (-2.3)%, and Beef and Veal (-1.5%).
The index for All Items Less Food and Energy remains unchanged. The index for Miscellaneous Goods and Services rose 0.3%. The index for Furnishings, Household Equipment, and Routine Household Maintenance had a marginal increase of 0.1%. These increases were offset by a decline in the Transport index of -0.4%.
There are several reasons why food prices are still rising, including the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted nearly every part of the food supply chain, including production, processing, and retail.
Think about it…when lockdowns forced people to eat at home, producers catering to restaurants lost a key customer base, while grocery stores faced a massive increase in demand. Many food producers struggled in those early months to convert their operations to serve grocery consumers.
Food production costs also increased due to labor turnover, investments to protect products from contamination, and additional worker-training costs. And even the cost of transportation of food to processors and grocery stores increased as retailers placed rush orders to keep shelves stocked.
And just when you think the pandemic was enough, here comes the unprovoked war in Ukraine, which analysts said would affect food prices.
Russia and Ukraine are some of the largest producers of wheat in the world, together accounting for almost 40 percent of all wheat exports.
And of course, here comes the domino effect. Due to the war in Ukraine, Western countries have implemented bans on Russian imports, including oil and gas.