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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 13:11 GMT
Families' shopping list
Six families around the world share their shopping list and tell the BBC how the global rise in food prices has affected their eating habits. We will return to the families in the months ahead to see if prices have changed.

Evelyn Rodas
The Rodas family
The Classick family
The Classick family

The Mahtre family
The Mhatre family
The Wang Jun family
The Wang Jun family

Sheila and Andrew Mbiru
The Mbiru family
The Abdulwahab family
The Abdulwahab family


The Rodas family
Evelyn prepared lunch for her dad, her two nephews and her niece

Evelyn: I am an agronomic engineer and my family has six members.

I spend approximately $250 a month buying meat, milk, fruit and vegetables, bread and tortillas, which is around 40% of our income.

The rise in the prices of all the basic food products here is alarming, and it is even worse for the families who live in extreme poverty, because they don't have enough food to live with dignity.

I have noticed the rise as well. We used to eat meat five times a week, and we can only do it twice now. The children don't drink milk three times a day but once for breakfast, and we don't buy some fruits that get too expensive depending on the season.

Evelyn cooking
The Rodas family spends 40% of its income on food.
1 kilo of corn tortilla flour: $0.71 (35p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $1.95 (97p)
1 kilo of chicken: $4.28 (2.12)
1 kilo of potatoes: $ 4.40 (2.18)

Shop owners have also been affected. My mum owns a shop, and I have seen how there are fewer customers, while the suppliers raise their prices every day.

Basic products like corn tortillas, which are central to the Guatemalan diet, cost US$1 a kilo, and we consume at least two kilos a day, besides bread.

I think the reason behind the high prices is the rise in the price of corn in the international markets, due to its high demand in the production of bio fuels such as ethanol.


The Classick family on holiday
Jonathan, Joanne, Reece and Morgan Classick

Joanne: I think we are probably quite average with our food shopping habits.

We try to keep our diets balanced by eating healthy snacks, and having plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

We spend between 80 to 100 per week on our food shopping, which is about 10% of our weekly income.

I like to cook with fresh ingredients and prepare most of our meals from scratch.

On an average day, we will all have toast or cereal for breakfast with a glass of orange juice. Lunch is usually a home-made sandwich, yoghurt and fruit, and our main meals usually consist of meat with potatoes and two or three vegetables.

Loaf of bread
The Classick family spends 10% of its income on food.
Loaf of bread: $2.50 (1.23)
1 litre of cooking oil: $1.60 (78p)
1 kilo of carrots: $1.25 (62p)
1 kilo of lamb: $18.60(9.24)

Probably the most expensive part of our weekly shopping is the fruit and vegetables, and the meat. I haven't really noticed the fruit and vegetable prices rise much lately, but the price of the meat has certainly gone up.

The rises haven't changed our buying habits, as we believe a healthy diet is one of the most essential things we teach our children about, and what you eat does have an effect on how you feel.

We would rather go without other things if necessary.


The Mahtre family
The Mhatre family: Poonam, Neil, Shaniya And Tyra

Poonam: I have to feed a family of four here. My weekly food bill comes to more than US$100.

We buy vegetables, meat, cold cuts, eggs, dahl, rice, pulses and cooking oil. Each week we try to eat out about twice.

I have to say we have definitely noticed a lot of price rises in the past two years. I don't think it has really changed our buying habits, but what it has meant is that we have to spend much more. We cannot cut down on food. That is not an option. My family just eats that much. So our weekly budget has gone up.

I think we spend about 20% to 30% of our income on food. Food is very important to us, it is really central to our lives. The children always need their salads and their fruit plates. The children need their cookies and their eggs. There is no way I can compromise. I just have to buy more.

The Mhatre family spends 20% to 30% of its income on food.
1 kilo of chapati flour: $0.55 (27p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $2.20 (1.10)
1 kilo of chicken: $1.40 (70p)
1 kilo of beans: $1.04 (52p)

In India, the majority of the population is below the poverty line. The government really needs to concentrate on getting prices stabilised, particularly the basics, like rice, wheat flour and onions. I have particularly noticed price rises in goods like sugar, milk, pulses and vegetables.

Other people I know complain. Everyone talks about how price rises are just too much, how they are really affecting their budgets.


The Wang Jun family
Wan Jung lives with his wife and his wife's mother

Wang Jun: I live with my wife and my wife's mother in Beijing. We own a small cleaning place. Food prices have risen in the past few years, especially last year.

We spend a lot on food. Renting the place where we live costs more than $100 and we can't really save much money for our daughter's tuition fees back at our hometown.

We've been tightening our belts to save more money.

Over the past year, the cost of food has risen so quickly that we had to stop eating meat every day to save money.

The pork price just soared madly, and it's now three or four times more expensive than two years ago.

We only eat chopped-up pork two or three times a week, but with vegetables. Eating meat on its own seems too extravagant for us.

The Wang Jun family spends 16% of its income on food.
1 kilo of rice: $0.62 (31p)
1 litre cooking oil: $2.50 (1.25)
1 kilo of pork: $4.22 (2.10)
1 kilo of lettuce: $0.99 (49p)

Also, to save money, my wife wakes up around at around 6am and cycles for one hour to go to an early market that sells cheap vegetables.

Even though it is less than one yuan cheaper than a nearby market, we can save a lot by doing it every day.

We've been using less cooking oil as well, because the price of oil has trebled over the past few months. Just now, the supermarket was taking down old price tags as the price went up again. It's mad. So we've been eating more vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages - locally grown food is just cheaper.

The price rises are frustrating for us, but because I used to be a farmer I also see the farmers' point of view.

If the government controls food prices too much, farmers can't earn any money and life can be very difficult.


Sheila and Andrew Mbiru
Sheila and Andrew live with their three children outside Nairobi

Sheila: I work as a research scientist and my husband is a businessman. We live around 15km from Nairobi, at the Ridgeways Estate.

I spend an average of $228 a month. This may increase if we entertain guests or if we eat out. That's around 10% of our joint income.

I buy most of the storable stuff like rice, flour and sugar in the supermarket. I have stopped buying fresh food like fruit, vegetables and meat from there, and now buy at a local shop near to where I live, because it's cheaper.

I don't eat beef, because I have an allergy. So we eat fish, chicken and pork. I have noticed an increase since the beginning of year, especially because of the political crisis in our country.

The Mbiru's fruit bowl
The Mbiru family spends 10% of its income on food.
1 kilo of maize flour: $0.40 (20p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $2.34 (1.16)
1 kilo of chicken: $4.70 (2.33)
1 kilo of potatoes: $0.55 (27p)

The price of potatoes has increased from 25 shillings per kilo, to 35 shillings per kilo. Roast chicken from the local chip shop has doubled. And this was just last week.

The political situation is a bit better, so maybe prices will go down. But they haven't yet.

We have reduced the amount of meat we eat and increased our vegetables intake because of the increased cost. We used to have meat three times a week, and now do just twice a week.


The Abdulwahab family. Aza Hedar is on the right of the photo wearing a blue scarf.
The Abdulwahab extended family of five adults and three children

The Abdulwahab family lives in Imbaba, a poor area of Cairo. Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat, so they have been hit hard by international prices rises.

Aza Hedar (on the right of the photo wearing a blue scarf), says that instead of three meals a day, the family now eats just two.

"We never thought it would reach this level. The prices of some foods have doubled since the end of last year. One Egyptian pound used to feed the whole household now five Egyptian pounds barely covers it."

Aza shops in the market with her sister-in-law, Aza Abdulwahab (on the left of the photo, in the beige scarf), and together they cook for the extended family of five adults and three children.

"We used to go to the market and buy whatever we laid eyes upon but now we have to think first," the second Aza says.

Grandmother Nabawia cooking
The Abdulwahab family spends 80% of its income on food. Subsidised bread and cooking oil can be bought from government shops, but not in enough quantities to feed the family.
10 unsubsidised loaves of bread: $0.45 (22p)
10 subsidised loaves of bread: $0.09 (4.5p)
1 unsubsidised litre of cooking oil: $2.30 (1.15)
1 subsidised litre of cooking oil: $1.50 (75p)
1 kilo of lamb: $7.22 (3.60)
1 kilo tomatoes: $0.37 (18p)

"I buy more fruit and vegetables and we eat meat just once a week instead of every day."

The family is also increasingly reliant on government food subsidies, buying as much sugar, rice, tea and cooking oil as their ration book will allow.

Othman Abdulwahab, a government worker, is the main earner for the household. But salaries have not increased since the dramatic rise in food prices.

He is recovering from a back operation and so cannot endure hours queuing for subsidised bread.

The solution has come from his elderly mother, Nabawia. She uses a recipe from her native home in Aswan to make a simple type of bread made from flour and water - which is cooked on the stove.

"This is what we do in a time of crisis," Othman says.

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