The Edible Money Crunch: Real, Imagined, Virtual?
Yesterday, the bean counters at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), and on the surface, the picture ain't pretty. According to the report, food prices for the first half of 2008 shot up by 6.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, already surpassing the 4.7 percent annual increase for all of 2007.
Based on these numbers, that means that a 10-dollar bag of groceries is now closer to 11 bucks, and that 100-dollar weekly food bill is more like $111. Multiply those numbers by four, and you're shelling out $44 more per month -- for now.
Worldwide, however, the jump has been much more substantial. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which tracks global commodities such as rice, sugar and wheat, the food price index has increased 57 percent between March 2007 and March 2008. And here's yet another wrinkle: In many developing countries where the currency is tied to the dollar, a weak dollar means fewer imports, more exports and less local food to go around -- i.e. shortages. Shortages as well as prohibitive increases have resulted in riots around the world; check out this eye-opening map of food riots that took place around the world earlier this year.
I'm putting all of this on the table because I'm curious: Has the continually surging CPI trickled down to your own pocketbook? No doubt Americans have been feeling the sticker shock at the gas pump this year, (although we're still paying less than much of the rest of the world), but is your pain the same at the supermarket checkout counter?
What, if anything, are you doing differently with regards to your weekly food budget? And what are you hearing from friends and family in the developing world? Your stories, your comments, and your morsels of wisdom are all welcome in the comments area. Food for thought, please!
On a related note.: Today at 11 a.m. ET, consumerist.com editor Ben Popken is hosting a live Web chat about the "grocery shrink ray," a new phenomenon you may or may not have noticed while food shopping.
By Kim ODonnel |
July 17, 2008; 9:29 AM ET
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