Family First NZ says that the price of budget shopping for a family has increased well above the food price index of 3.3% and could be closer to 12%.
A weekly shopping basket for a family with a budget of between $150 and $225 per week was recorded at two different supermarkets in Auckland in 2008 and then again 12 months later in 2009. While the prices increased only slightly at the higher priced Foodtown ($181-$187 cheaper option and $226-$237 more expensive option), the prices at the budget price Pak’n’Save increased by 10.4% for cheaper items ($152-$168) and 12.3% for higher priced items ($173-$194).
“While the wages and salaries of many families have been frozen over the past 12 months due to the recession, essential and basic groceries have potentially increased by up to 12%,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “It seems that the prices at ‘cost-cutting’ supermarkets are catching up to other supermarkets and families are paying much more for their groceries than this time last year.”
“The shopping basket only included basic items necessary for a family with very few ‘treat’ foods. It doesn’t include any restaurant eating or takeaways but is simply a ‘survival’ budget for a busy family.”
“According to Statistics NZ, food prices increased 3.3% from September 2008 to September 2009, but this fails to reflect the realities of what families are facing,” says Mr McCoskrie. “This is not discretionary spending. It’s the basic spending that a family would need to do just to survive.”
“It comes as no surprise that families are struggling financially and that discretionary spending such as family trips, sports, and school expenses are being reduced. Desperate parents will be turning to food banks, looking to work longer hours, get extra jobs, and may even be turning to loan sharks. This will be increasing the stress of many families.”
“Low income families will simply not be able to survive if this trend continues and the government must address issues around tax cuts, income levels, accessibility to budgeting services, and increased support for families with children.”