Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:39 UK

World Service Food Price Index

The BBC World Service is tracking food prices in seven major cities to create a World Food Price Index. Each week reporters head to the shops to record the prices for five of that country's staple foods.

Every basket of goods was normalised to a cost of 100 when the experiment began in July 2008. How much it cost to buy the same basket of goods after that time is reflected in the rise above or dip below 100.

Use the map to see how the cities have fared.

MoscowBrusselsWashington DCNairobiDelhiBuenos AiresJakartaWorld Service Average


World Service Average 08/06/09

French bread

Brussels basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Beef; Eggs (6); Bread (white loaf, 400g); Milk (1L); Potatoes (1kg)

Analysis: Prices have remained relatively flat in Brussels. Indeed, the cost of basic staples such as milk, bread and meat is either stable or coming down.

Processed foods are rising in cost but only at a moderate pace. Basic staples, such as those covered in the BBC index, are currently staying the same or getting cheaper.

The cost of milk has fallen, though not as much as prices paid to dairy farmers. The main factor behind this has been a price war between one of Belgium's major supermarket groups and rival discount chains.

Bread prices are broadly steady, while potato prices have come down. This reflects increased supply after two consecutive average harvests. Potato prices had been high due to a poor harvest in 2006.

Buenos Aires basket

Buenos Aires basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Beef (1kg); Milk (1L); Bread (1kg); Potatoes (1kg); Eggs (6)

Analysis: The lines for potatoes and bread are almost hidden behind the line for beef as prices have remained steady. Some major supermarkets have agreed with the government to keep some food prices frozen.

There is no longer a supply shortage of products like potatoes. However for Argentina one of the main food issues at the moment is meat production.

Last year, in an effort to ensure adequate domestic supplies of meat for consumers, the government raised export taxes on meat products.

However, one unintended result has been a fall-off in investment in Argentina's traditional beef industry. Now some experts are warning that in the future the country may need to import some of its meat.


Delhi basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Rice (1kg); Ground flour (1kg); Lentils (1kg); Onions (1kg); Milk (1L)

Analysis: While inflation in India generally has eased considerably, the prices of some food items have continued to rise significantly.

Over the past year, wheat, rice and other grains have risen by 12%, while fruit & vegetables gained 8.5% and milk 6.4% respectively. However, sugar has shot up by almost 30%.

The farming sector is the main reason that India's inflation rate has not turned negative. People are now waiting to see for the south-west monsoon, to see what impact this will have on harvests.

Jakarta market

Jakarta basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Rice (5kg); Sugar (1kg); Cooking oil (1L); Eggs (1kg); Flour (1kg)

Analysis: Prices in Jakarta can be influenced by religious celebrations - the "Eid-effect" causes a rise in domestic demand for celebration foods like meat and chicken when people celebrate the end of the Muslim month of fasting.

The main development recently has been the fall in some rice prices - Indonesia is a major producer. Because of lower global rice prices, the government has decided to delay the start of planned rice exports from June to August.

The Indonesian government has said it would not force companies to export rice if international prices kept falling.

"The price domestically is still good as well as its supply," said deputy minister Bayu Krisnamurthi. Earlier, the government said that it was ready to export 54,000 tonnes of rice this year.


Moscow basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Eggs (10); Potatoes (1kg); Milk (carton); Bread (loaf); Beef (1kg)

Analysis: Russian food prices have soared in the last few months, outpacing the rise in European food prices by a factor of 10, according to government figures.

Food prices increased by 5.8% from January to April this year, almost 10 times higher than the the 0.6% rise in the European Union.

The biggest rises in the four-month period were seen in prices for fruit - which spiked 17% in Russia while rising only 1.9% in Europe - and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery goods, which jumped by 12.7% and only 1.5% in Europe.

Prices for vegetables rose by 11.6%, while fish and seafood prices were up by 9.4%.

The weakness in the value of Russia's currency, the ruble, in the early part of the year has been one of the main factors in food price inflation. Because Russia imports up to 30% of its food, a weaker ruble will mean higher prices in the shops.


Nairobi basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Maize flour (2kg); Milk (500ml); Bread (500g); Tomatoes (1kg); Green Maize (1kg)

Analysis: High food prices remain a concern in Kenya, with the United Nations food agency saying it will give food aid to more than double the number of people it is currently helping in the country.

The World Food Programme (WFP) will now feed 3.5 million people hit by drought and high food prices.

The Kenyan government declared a national disaster in January following the failure of the short rains in south-eastern and coastal areas.

Analysts say that last year's political violence has also contributed to food shortages because many displaced people were unable to plant their crops.

Beef burgers

Washington DC basket 08/06/09

Basket contents: Bread (0.7kg); Milk (1.89L); Potatoes (0.5kg); Beef (0.7kg); Eggs (6)

Analysis: US food prices jumped 5.5% last year, the biggest jump since 1990. They are expected to moderate slightly this year with a rise of up to 4.5%, helped by lower dairy and meat prices.

This is much higher than what American consumers were accustomed to a few years earlier. In 2005 and 2006, for instance, food prices climbed 2.4%.

The government's most recent forecast of US farm prospects suggests food makers will struggle with relatively high crop prices at least into next year.

Commodity supplies are expected to remain tight in part because the global recession and tight credit are prompting growers to plant fewer high-cost crops such as corn, wheat and cotton in favour of crops such as soybeans that don't need expensive fertilisers.

Unfavourable weather could also reduce harvests in the Great Plains and the Midwest.

Print Sponsor

The BBC's world food price watch
18 May 09 |  Business
Food prices vary but crisis remains
15 May 09 |  Business

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific