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The Basket of Goods Project : Food and Beverages

Last week I went into the supermarket and an idea hit me. Actually, it had popped into my head a couple times before but I was not sure how to approach the topic. For years there has been a debate on the basket of goods and its importance to the survival of the average person. The basket of goods is used to calculate the Consumer Price Index, which is basically a measure of the changes in the retails prices of these goods.

I’m not going to calculate the CPI, but I thought that it would be interesting to see how food prices fluctuate throughout the year. How much of a change are the retailers passing on to the consumers even in the wake of government concessions? In Barbados, it’s a fact that some retailers are given government concessions, but refuse to pass them on to their customers. Prices are inflated, doubled and tripled one month and the next month the particular retailer records profits that they boast about in the local media.

The list of food items is huge, so I will choose a couple items from each category to monitor:

  1. Cereals, Flour, Bakery Products – Rice, flour, corn flakes, oats, macaroni, spaghetti, bread, biscuits
  2. Meat – Beef, hamburgers, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, bacon, sausages, ham, canned meats (luncheon meat, spam, corned beef, sausages)
  3. Fish – Flying fish, dolphin, salted fish, canned fish (sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerels)
  4. Butter and Cooking Oils – butter, margarine, vegetable oil (including olive oil)
  5. Milk, Milk Products and Eggs – milk (pasteurised, evaporated, condensed, flavoured), cheese, eggs, ice cream
  6. Juices and Non Alcoholic Beverages – fruit juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, powdered mixes, malts, sodas
  7. Sugar Confectionery and Preserves – jams, marmalades, sugar, honey
  8. Vegetables and Ground Provisions – potatoes (English and sweet), peas, tomatoes, garlic, onions, string beans, carrots, beets, peppers, cabbage, okra, cucumbers, pumpkins, lettuce, yams, broccoli, corn, canned vegetables
  9. Fruit – oranges, grapefruits, bananas, plantains, apples, grapes, nuts
  10. Condiments – pepper (black, white, cayenne), curry powder, other spices, tomato ketchup and sauce, salt, mayonnaise, pepper sauce

This project is going to be different for people in different geographic locations. For example, in the Caribbean, rice is a basic consumption item and I would say that it sits right at the top of our basket of goods. In the USA, pasta might be the number one on the basket of goods. So, to make this project as general as possible, I will choose a selection of items that should be applicable across regions.

(Note: The categories listed, were taken from an Index of Retail Prices document produced by the Barbados Statistical Service)