Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Food Prices in Haiti

The global food crisis has been severely felt in Haiti. The phenomenon that is locally known as ‘La Vi Che’ or (the Expensive Life) is talked about in tap-taps, on radio stations, in government and comes up in virtually every financial interaction. Escalating prices of food coupled with ever present unemployment have put the average Haitian family in a devastating position. Though commodity price increases are felt virtually across the board, there are few staple products which testify to the genuine burden placed on Haiti’s people.

RICE:
Gladys Desviné, a forty-five year old Port-au-Prince resident, expressed that last year she paid $1.35 per tin (approximately 12 cups) for imported rice from the United. KPL is now monitoring local prices and found that the same quantity of rice now sells for $3.42, a 60% price increase. In contrast, a year ago Haitian Yellow Rice sold for $3.78 USD while today its market value is $5.48.

MILK:
In Haiti, canned evaporated milk is commonly used in juice, coffee, porridge and a myriad of other foods. In June of last year a small can (1 Cup) of evaporated milk sold for 0.34 cents. Currently, the same cans sell for 0.54 cents. This reflects a 37% increase.

EGGS:
In December 2008, Haiti closed its borders to Dominican poultry products after 115 cases of the bird flu were reported. Despite this, Haiti’s markets continue to be flooded with Dominican eggs. One Haitian company, Jaune D’or, has started a poultry farm that produces eggs of consistent quality. Jaune D’or eggs are being seen more consistently in Haiti, however most local eggs sold in the market are laid naturally. Though these natural eggs can be extremely nutritious, and are what we might call ‘free range,’ a lack of quality control means that in a dozen eggs, generally 3 eggs are stale, have an unstable yolk or excessively watery egg white. This is often a result of continuing to use too-old laying hens. A dozen of these local eggs cost approximately $3.20 at the supermarket, whereas eggs from the Dominican Republic cost about $2.60. However, since about 3 of every dozen local eggs are not suited for consumption, the price per egg increases significantly.

PEANUT BUTTER
Peanut butter is a Haitian staple with various types and tastes ranging from sweet to spicy. Haitian’s have mastered peanut butter production, but still imported brands are sold in supermarkets. In fact, the average price of imported peanut butter (10 ounces) in one super market in Port-au-Prince: $1.36, whereas 10 ounces of Haitian-produced peanut butter averages at: $1.81 USD. This makes Haitian Peanut butter is 25% more expensive than imported Peanut Butter.

Not only do price augmentations cause incredible burden on the pocket-books of Haitian families, but the cost differences between local and imported foods make it nearly impossible for the average Haitian to ‘buy local’. When Haitian rice is 38% more expensive than its imported equivalent, most Haitian’s do not have a choice but to opt for the later. What’s curious is that although local rice is considerably more expensive, this price margin clearly does not reflect a considerable profit for Haitian producers. Rice farmers in Haiti struggle to make ends meet and though local peanut better sells for 45 cents more than imported, I have a hunch the Jiffy* and Cap’n Kid* aren’t too worried that local brands have a higher profit margin.

10 comments:

Debbie said...

Are you still active in this work? I've been doing work in Caiman. http://zwazoyo.blogspot.com/

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