Food cost shock for developing nations

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HIGH and volatile food prices are pushing the cost of a basic food shop, worth £7 in the UK, up to nearly four times the average salary in some developing nations, Save The Children said.

The charity asked its staff in nine countries to buy a selection of food from local markets, including meat, bread, oil, milk, fruit and vegetables.

Shopping online at Tesco in the UK, the basket of food would cost £7, the charity said.

But in South Sudan, the basket cost nearly four times the average salary, and was the equivalent of paying £1,838 for the food in this country.

In Somaliland, it cost twice the local average weekly salary, the equivalent of £1,034 in the UK.

In India the basket cost half of the average weekly salary, equivalent to £270, whilst in Mozambique the equivalent of £490, the Ivory Coast £200, Egypt it was £167, Bangladesh £161 and Spain £20.

The charity stressed that the survey, carried out to coincide with World Food Day today, was not scientific.

But it pointed out that in some countries meat, fish or bread are already too expensive to be considered part of a regular daily or even weekly diet.

The 36 countries that are home to over 90 per cent of the world’s malnourished children are feeling the effects of the food price rises the hardest, the charity said.

The poorest households can already spend up to 80 per cent of their income on food.

As prices rise, families are being forced to cut back on items, like meat, vegetables, lentils or milk, which help children grow, they added.

The charity warned that record food prices in 2011 put an additional 400,000 children’s lives at risk and led to food riots globally.

Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive, said: “Even before food prices started to rise, many poor parents were struggling to afford nutritious food for their children.

“When prices rise, families cut back even further, unable to pay the price of nutritious foods which will help children grow up healthy and fulfil their potential.

“The slow progress globally on malnutrition – still the underlying cause of a third of child deaths – could be at risk if we don’t act to help the poorest families.”

Global food prices are “teetering dangerously close to their highest level in history”, the charity said.

In July this year maize and wheat increased by 25 per cent globally – but rises are much sharper in some developing world countries.