Friday, Feb 21, 2020
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Researcher: Prices of essential food items up significantly since 2014

Since 2014, the cost of some food items considered “essential to sustain an affordable living” for Bahamians on the lower economic rung has increased, in some cases by 282 percent. In many instances, such items may not be the best commodities to consume for nutritional value.

A study of the prices of some of those items, presented to the University of The Bahamas by Dr. Allison Karpyn, found that, since 2014, the cost of grits has increased by 14.29 percent; sugar has increased by 44.44 percent; cheese has increased by 281.82 percent; and margarine by 70.59 percent. The increases were measured per gram of the item.

Other items researched include butter, cooking oil, mayonnaise, corned beef, evaporated milk, rice, flour, bread and tomato paste. The list includes some household items utilized by families, such as laundry detergent and baby formula. Those items did not include a per-year price comparison.

Karpyn is a Fulbright scholar on a two-year stint on Eleuthera to study the island’s food security, Her presentation to a packed house at the university was entitled: ‘Rice, cream, grits and tomato paste: a snapshot of Bahamian food security’.

Karpyn, after doing a small study on Eleuthera found that some people on the island were food insecure, or prone to experience hunger.

She also found that the price disparity between similar items on Nassau and Eleuthera raises a red flag about the state of food security on the Family Islands versus New Providence. According to her findings, on Eleuthera bananas are 91.07 percent more expensive than on New Providence; a half gallon of milk is 69.82 percent more expensive, and tomato paste is 15.98 percent more expensive. Other items included in her presentation were carrots, evaporated milk, margarine, eggs and oil.

She said the disparity should alarm the agencies that offer financial assistance to low income individuals in the Family Islands.

Karpyn explained in her presentation that among small island developing states (SIDS) in the region, The Bahamas is the ninth most obese country of 15 other countries in the region. She added that SIDS are “uniquely” vulnerable to food insecurity, and food imports are an important source of food availability, but those imports typically include highly processed foods. The Bahamas imports $1 billion in food annually.

She added that SIDS face the “triple burden of malnutrition where undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overnutrition (excess calories) coexist”.

Director of the Chronic Disease Research Centre Dr. Alafia Samuels said recently that heart and respiratory diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes are significantly affecting the people of the Caribbean, according to a story by news website

“Most of the deaths in the Caribbean are due to these diseases,” she said in the article.

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