With inflation soaring, Brazilian families change their menu

Grocery shopping

(Nodar Chernishev/Getty Images)

Pressured by the combination of inflation, rising unemployment and less coverage and availability of emergency aid resources, the Brazilian reduced the amounts purchased of food, beverages and hygiene and cleaning products in the first half of this year. There was a decrease in volumes in practically all baskets. The priority of daily consumption was concentrated on basic foods: rice and beans.

The families’ shorter budget also changed the consumption of items not considered as basic until then, such as breaded chicken and fish, for example.

In the first half of the year, the product debuted in 3.4 million households as a cheaper animal protein alternative to red meat, which rose 31.31% in the 12 months to August, according to the month’s IPCA-15 – an indicator that is a preview of the country’s official inflation, the Extended National Consumer Price Index (IPCA). It is the equivalent of three times the general inflation in the same period (9.30%) according to the inflation preview indicator.

This rearrangement in purchases appears in a survey by global consultancy Kantar, obtained exclusively by state. Monthly, the consultancy takes a picture of the pantry of 11,000 homes to project the consumption of 58.8 million homes in the country.

From January to June, the volume of units purchased from a basket of 107 categories was 4.4% lower compared to the same period in 2020. But spending rose 6.9%, driven by the average increase of 11.8% in prices of these products.

In the short term, from the first to the second quarter, commodities, up 16%, and perishables, up 15%, were at the top of the baskets with the biggest price increases, the survey points out. This paved the way for breaded products, synonymous with practicality, to regularly start to be part of the shopping list of all social classes.

change begrudgingly

Responsible for preparing the family’s meals, retired Maristela Colleoni Soares, 54, started to include breaded products in her routine to save on meat. Before, these processed foods were consumed sporadically. “I’m super against breaded and any processed food, but with the rise in the price of meat, it became unfeasible. Then I started to buy”, he says.

For every meal she prepares for the family of five – she, her husband, the twins and her mother – Maristela spends a little more than 1 kilo of meat, around R$50 to R$60. it disburses close to R$40 for a two-kilogram bag and uses it in several meals.

“It was a forced replacement due to the increase in spending on food, electricity, gas, everything went up,” says the retiree. Among meat and other items, such as yogurt, for example, Maristela has cut by about 10% the amounts purchased for food, hygiene and cleaning products and, even so, is spending 40% more. Without the cuts, he believes he would have a 70% increase in spending.

“Consumers had to make choices and abandoned a series of categories to make the budget work with fewer resources in their pockets”, says Renan Morais, Kantar’s Solutions Manager. In the case of the poorest, most Brazilians, he recalls that emergency aid, which last year benefited 55% of the population with resources of R$ 600 in the first three months, reached 39% of Brazilians in the first half of this year. And with very modest figures, between R$ 150 and R$ 250 monthly.

This made the population at the base of the social pyramid cut consumption of superfluous items. The survey reveals that nearly one million homes in classes D and E, with monthly income between R$ 270 and R$ 1,600, took the powdered chocolate from purchases in the first half of this year. On the opposite pole, almost half a million homes in the A and B classes, with an average monthly family income above R$ 7,200, also stopped buying beer in the same period.

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