Fiji Labour Party, MH, Food4Less and NZ Food Prices Compared

The Fiji Labour Party website recently  published prices for 30 food and household items pre- and post- devaluation. Its stated aim was to see the effects of devaluation, and the 21.2% increase in VAT in January 2011. Its unstated aim was probably to discredit Government's financial management.

A number of items selected by the FLP would only be purchased by Fiji's middle class. Not many households, for example,  would be buying wheetbix or milo, and they were shop prices. Nothing was included from the  market.

By January 2011  the prices of almost all items (except rice, which had fallen 20%, and tinned mackerel that fell 33%) had substantially increased  from the pre-devaluation price in March 2009.

I took 18 of the FLP's  21 food items listed and compared them with March 2011 prices in MH and Food4Less in Suva and Pak n'Save in NZ.

In Fiji, MH prices in March were up on the FLP's January 2011 figures, although chicken, potatoes and carrots were lower, but the prices of most items at the local Food4Less shop across the road were much lower than MH and many items were also lower than, or unchanged from, the FLP January figures.

Of equal interest was that the NZ figures*, on average, showed higher prices than in Fiji both before and after devaluation, and higher percentage price increases (NZ compared with FLP Jan.2011) than those experienced in Fiji after devaluation.



While exact Fiji-NZ price comparisons cannot be made because there could be differences in quality in some items and because many NZ items can be purchased in larger quantities, it does seem that Fiji was not alone in experiencing sharp increases in food prices since 2009.

If this conclusion is correct, the FLP is incorrect in attributing the increases in food prices to Government's decision to devalue the Fiji dollar — or Government's “poor” economic policies.  This, of course, is not to deny that things are tough to low-income families in Fiji — or New Zealand.

* My calculations have treated the Fiji and NZ dollars as of equal value whereas F$1 equals NZ$0.70, and NZ1 equals F$1.43. For the enthusiasts and doubters here's the table for dollars (uncoloured) and percentages (coloured).


Item unit FLP 3/09 FLP 1/11 FLP 9 v 11 MH 3/11 F4L 3/11 MH v. FLP 11 F4L v FLP 11 NZ 3/11 NZ v FLP 9 NZ v. FLP 11
Lamb Neck kg 3.99 8.00 50.1 13.16 9.99 64.50 24.9 10.80 170.7 35.0
Lamb Chops kg 7.99 13.16 39.3 13.16 16.16 0.00 22.8 16.50 106.5 25.4
Chicken #15 8.99 12.29 26.9 11.88 12.39 -3.34 0.8 10.98 22.1 -10.7
Oxford Beef 340g 3.15 3.70 14.9 3.99 3.85 7.84 4.1 4.49 42.5 21.4
Cant. Mutton 340g 3.15 3.80 17.1 3.99 3.85 5.00 1.3 5.61 78.1 47.6
Mackerel Tom.Sce 425g 3.19 2.39 -33.5 2.65 1.99 10.88 -16.7 2.11 -33.9 -11.7
Garlic 500g 0.65 3.29 80.2 3.47 3.23 5.47 -1.8 8.00 1130.8 143.2
Potatoes kg 0.99 2.38 58.4 2.00 1.99 -15.97 -16.4 1.20 21.2 -49.6
Onions kg 0.89 2.00 55.5 1.68 1.84 -16.00 -8.0 2.28 156.2 14.0
Carrot kg 1.15 3.59 68.0 3.89
8.36 . 2.48 115.7 -30.9
Flour 10kg 10.19 10.99 7.3 11.89 12.60 8.19 14.6 14.00 37.4 27.4
Sungrown Rice 10kg 14.99 12.49 -20.0 12.49
0.00 . 22.00 46.8 76.1
Soyabean Oil 4 litres 12.50 17.61 29.0 19.08 17.61 8.35 0.0 15.30 22.4 -13.1
Wheatbix 375g 3.79 4.09 7.3 3.89 3.75 -4.89 -8.3 2.05 -45.9 -49.9
Breakfast Crackers 375g 1.05 1.35 22.2 1.35 1.35 0.00 0.0 4.14 294.3 206.7
Milo 500g 6.99 6.99 0.0 10.89 10.26 55.79 46.8 6.10 -12.7 -12.7
Tea 200g 1.69 2.49 32.1 2.49 2.49 0.00 0.0 3.58 111.8 43.8
Butter 500g 3.29 6.09 46.0 6.05 6.05 -0.66 -0.7 4.49 36.5 -26.3
Total
88.63 116.7 500.8 128 109.4 133.53 63.4 136.11 2300.4 435.62

Comments

Economist said…
Wow, I am impressed! Lets go shopping in Fiji then. Given the fact that our average wages and incomes are more than three times the average of Fiji we can make a killing.
Brother Prasad said…
Are the percentages referring to % increases? If so when calculating % increase or decrease you find the difference then divide by the PREVIOUS price not the current price, for eg. Lamb neck should be a 100.5% increase not 50.1.

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