Page last updated at 00:53 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 01:53 UK

Families' shopping list

We returned to our six families around the world to see if their shopping list and their eating habits have changed with the global increase in food prices.

Evelyn Rodas
Rodas family
"We spend half our income on food"
The Classick family
Classick family
"My weekly shop has gone up quite a bit"

The Mahtre family
Mhatre family
"Life has become more expensive"
The Yang family
Yang family
"Supermarket prices are very expensive"

Sheila and Andrew Mbiru
Mbiru family
"I now buy from a local shop"
The Abdulwahab family
Abdulwahab family
"Bread weighs less than before"


The Rodas family
The Rodas family now spends 50% of its income on food, compared to 40% in March.
1 kilo of corn tortilla flour: $0.80 (40p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $2.40 (1.22)
1 kilo of chicken: $4.10 (2.08)
1 kilo of potatoes: $ 4.20 (2.10)

Evelyn: The price of the dollar in relation with the Guatemalan quetzal has gone down, but food prices are still rising.

This means that now more than 50% of our income is spent on food. The monthly cost of the typical food basket for my family has increased from US$227 in March to US$268.66 in May.

My country has seen food price rises mostly because petrol prices have increased. The cost of life is now even higher and the salaries remain the same.

We have started to buy less beef and chicken, we prefer to eat baked potatoes with cheese. But we cannot do without our tortillas, which have gone up. For the price that we used to buy six tortillas we can now only buy four.

When I go to the supermarket I have to look for offers, even if it is not the product I used to buy. Gas has also gone up by 30%, we use it to cook. The poorest people spend between 70% and 80% of their income in food. The minimum salary is around US$220. This doesn't even cover the cost of the basic food basket, which is the minimum suggested daily calories intake.


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

Joanne: We still eat 'proper' home cooked meals containing the proverbial meat and two or three veg.

I have noticed a difference in the food prices, my weekly shopping bill has gone up quite a bit, probably about 20-30 per week, and that's just for the basic foods.

I have just recently started to change the way I shop. I still use the supermarket for cereals, bread etc but I now use a farmers co-operative for our fruit and veg.

To check their prices I shop online at a website which delivers the food to your door and it is mostly locally grown and organic, but it still cheaper and better quality than the supermarket.

Loaf of bread
The Classick family spends 10% of its income on food.
Loaf of bread: $2.70 (1.35)
1 litre of cooking oil: $1.99 (1.15)
1 kilo of carrots: $1.96 (84p)
1 kilo of lamb: $18.60 (9.24)

I usually buy their set boxes of fruit and veg and get whatever is in season that week.

This week I have paid 8.95 for a box of fruit containing melon, cherries, apples, bananas and oranges. I think this is really good value as the melon alone is about 3 in the supermarket.

The staple prices have gone up quite a bit too.

I think we are quite lucky that at the moment we are not struggling too much.

However, if the prices continue to rise along with the added fuel costs, which seem to go up daily, it won't be long before we have to consider what we need to reduce or stop doing and buying altogether.


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

Poonam: It is definitely true that people around have noticed price rises even more. It's being discussed by many people. Inflation is here to stay, it seems. There is a lot of controversy and debate around about it.

We have noticed that we spend more. But we haven't changed our shopping habits.

We come in a higher income group where our budget does not have to be so tight.

So while we haven't cut corners, life has become more expensive.

For lower-income groups life is very expensive. There are people who have to change their habits. Fruit has become dear.

The Mhatre family spends 30% of its income on food.
1 kilo of chapati flour: $0.82 (42p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $3.2 (1.60)
1 kilo of chicken: $4.7 (2.40)
1 kilo of beans: $0.95 (48p)
Right now it's vacation time and we're at home all the time, the kids are at home and they have friends coming over and they eat continuously. We are definitely spending much more - and our husbands do raise eyebrows when they give out the budget!

The way we work is with monthly or weekly orders. We have a fruit man who we order fruit from and he gives us a weekly bill. We always pay it. The same with groceries and vegetables which we pay on a monthly basis.

But we have become more charitable to poor people because we know how difficult life has become for them.


Yang Ning-ning and her mother
Yang Ning-ning and her mother

Yang Ning-ning: At the moment our household consists of just my mother and myself. There has been very serious inflation in China for more than a year. People still have to eat the same amount of food they always did.

The inflation in recent days is a problem, but not a serious problem for us.

Recent price rises have been seen mostly in meat such as pork. We don't eat a lot of pork so that hasn't hit us too hard. But cooking oil has also risen quite a lot.

I think it is much worse for people whose income is very low. We have also been getting a bit more in our pension, which has helped us cope with price rises. I have heard many people complaining about the price rises.

In my family, each person currently spends about 600 yuan per month on food. It's about 40% of the pension money I can get each month and about 20% of my monthly income - because I have other sources of income.

The Yang family spends 20% of its income on food.
1 kilo of rice: $0.60 (30.5p)
1 litre cooking oil:$1.80 (92p)
1 kilo of pork: $6.3 (3.20)
1 kilo of lettuce: $0.73 (37p)
Sometimes I like to buy a little treat like ice cream. Sometimes I eat out. But I do notice the price rises.

Supermarket prices are very expensive. We generally send someone to the vegetable market to buy our vegetables - prices are cheaper there.

We eat more fish than meat - but even here we have noticed price rises of about 30%. What we spend on food also depends on the quality of the ingredients we buy.

For example, there are different grades of rice produced in China that you can buy. Some people also buy imported rice from Thailand or Japan. The rice imported from Japan is very expensive. My family generally buys rice produced near Shanghai.


The Mbiru children in their vegetable garden
The Mbirus' children have started a vegetable garden

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 15% of our joint income (it used to be 10%).

There has been a rise in the cost of most foods in Kenya, as a result of the post-election violence and the rising cost of fuel.

There has been a marked increase in the cost of maize flour and rice.

In fact on 31 May there were demonstrations in Nairobi about the rising cost of food in the country.

The Mbiru's fruit bowl
The Mbiru family spends 15% of its income on food.
1 kilo of maize flour: $0.60 (30p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $3 (1.60)
1 kilo of chicken: $6.10 (3.15)
1 kilo of potatoes: $0.56 (30p)

We have drastically reduced the amount of fish we have in our diet since the prices are at an all time high. For the moment we have replaced fish with pork in our diet.

Our son, Mude has started a vegetable garden in our backyard where he grows maize, beans, carrots, tomatoes and squash, as a continuation of a school project.

The success of the vegetable garden has led to plans for its expansion because of the very real contribution it will have to our family food basket.


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

Azza: Things are worse since the last time I spoke to you.

On a personal level, I had a road accident last week, so I am stuck at home recovering.

Apart from that, prices have continued to rise.

There still isn't enough subsidised bread and cooking oil available in the government shops for everyone, it runs out.

There are big queues for the subsidised bread. By early afternoon - around 3pm - there is none left at the bakeries.

The price of a loaf is still the same, but they have reduced the weight of the bread so it doesn't stretch as far around the dinner table.

Azza shows subsidised and non-subsidised food
Azza says the Abdulwahab family now spends virtually 100% of its income on food.
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: $.84 (43p)
1 kilo of beef: $7.22 (3.60)
1 kilo tomatoes: $0.37 (18p)

We have not received any of the pay rises promised by the state.

We still eat just two meals a day, because we cannot afford to have three.

I'd say we now spend nearly 100% of our salary on food, we have to borrow to be able to cope with any other expenses.

Oil and water bills are double what they used to be.

The subsidised oil on sale in government shops is often very low quality, not fit for human consumption.

You can buy some of the subsidised oil on the black market at a higher price than it should be, but it's still cheaper than the non-subsidised stuff.

Of course, the price varies [depending on which] brand you buy. As I say, some is virtually unusable.

Meat is still a rare luxury.

The only things that have come down a bit in price are tomatoes and sugar.

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