Food inflation puts pressure on the poorest; experts evaluate actions

posted on 06/06/2022 05:47 / updated 06/06/2022 05:48


In April, data showed that about 90% of the analyzed foods became more expensive within a year – (credit: maurenilson freire)

A Brazilian goes to the market to buy only the essentials to make the meals of the month but, when checking the prices on the shelf, there is no other option, except to make substitutions or even give up certain items, so that he can pay the account at the cashier. If before rice, beans, vegetables and meat were guaranteed on the table, today they are a luxury item for some, especially the poorest. For these, government aid is not always able to guarantee their livelihood.

Among the main factors influencing the rise in prices are inflation and the interest rate – which has been on the rise since last year. The food and beverage category was one of those that suffered the greatest impact for the IPCA-15 (Extended Consumer Price Index) in May. The variation was 1.52% in the preview for the month’s inflation. The general cost of food at home accumulates more than 16% in the sum of the previous 12 months. In April, data showed that about 90% of the analyzed foods became more expensive within a year.

Ivania Souza, 39, has a husband and three children, and three months ago became Levi’s grandmother. A resident of Vila Planalto, she lost her job in March last year, and since then she has only had Auxílio Brasil and Auxílio Aluguel to support her entire family. Paying BRL 750 a month for housing, plus expenses with cooking gas and internet so that her children can study, Ivania says that she has BRL 50 to deal with other expenses. Ivania also discovered breast cancer, is undergoing chemotherapy, while taking care of the house and children. But she has no source of income. In the midst of this scenario, the harsh reality: eating becomes increasingly difficult.

“It’s been very difficult to buy at least food. We buy what we can buy, beans and rice, which is the main thing. And there’s no way to put fruit and vegetables at the fair, those things… You can’t give preference to that. I’m surviving but it’s people’s help”, he reported.

For Ivania, the support of the federal government is far from what it should be. “Before you receive the benefit of R$ 400 from Auxílio Brasil, a message still comes asking you to check what is in the kitchen and cupboards: ‘buy only the essentials’. How can a person buy only the essentials if the money can’t even buy anything? Not even to buy basic food?”, he vented.

Cook Merian Santos, 37, also felt the price increase. She lives with her mother, husband, son, sister and nephew in Capão Comprido, and is the only one who receives a salary. “As I’m the only one working here at home, and my husband sometimes works odd jobs, I’m the one who pays for everything. I buy medicine for my sister, which is all expensive, and then there’s a burden, it’s too expensive for me, because I’m I alone bank the house.”

Recently, she paid off her credit card debts, and decided to stop using this form of payment for a while, but she has been struggling without the possibility of paying in installments. “Things the way they are today, you don’t even eat right, you don’t even live right. Because you have to buy clothes, food, medicine, so it’s very difficult to maintain. said.

In a more delicate situation is the housewife Edineide do Amaral da Silva, 36, who lives in the Santa Luzia occupation, in Estrutural. She and her husband, coming from Bahia, are responsible for three children. The income comes from the old Bolsa Família and the work of the man: delivery of curbs, which he pays on Fridays, or Saturdays, or Sundays.

The shack has a fridge, but it’s practically empty. “It looks like it’s only going to get worse. I made lunch here today and the gas almost goes away, and I registered for Prato Cheio and (valley) Gás and I was not approved”, she recalls. According to her, Santa Luzia is a place forgotten by the authorities.

It remains to assemble the puzzle to make more money, and put the basics on the table. “Today we ate rice and eggs. I made a little beans, there’s flour, but meat and mixture is over, and it has to be for the weekend. And then after that we’ll hold it until the next payment.”

In the case of Belchior Francisco Gabriel, the stove is wood, and the meat is a luxury that is only possible in the community restaurant. The cart driver, also a resident of Santa Luzia, has not bought meat at the market for 15 years: freight and odd jobs as a shack builder are not enough to pay for the food.

“With the shipping I do, unfortunately I can’t buy everything you need. To tell the truth, there’s a lot of things missing. I get that Prato Cheio, the gas one I didn’t get. I ask people for help. I ate yesterday at the restaurant community, which is R$1, but I don’t have a fridge at home. Sometimes I go days without eating”, he said.

Scenario

The economist and researcher at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Felipe Queiroz, explains that the current context is marked by high inflation, high unemployment, and high interest rates, and that this is “the worst possible scenario”.

“The effect of this for families is a reduction in purchasing power, an increase in indebtedness and an increase in unemployment. And who suffers the most? Low-income families. Hence comes this suffocation that they are facing. 2021 closed around 10% – double the established limit. However, there are basic items that have risen above 20%, 30%, 40% throughout 2021, and will continue to rise this year”, he pointed out.

Due to the combination of the three variables, the population with lower purchasing power is forced to reduce the basket of products. “First, families change the line, start buying from other brands, then they change the basket, replacing the products and, finally, they start to reduce significantly. Because the cost has increased, wages are not increasing in a compatible way, and then we see absurd situations like the current ones: families going after bones in butchers.”

André Braz, economist at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), recalls that the pressure on food is one of the biggest. “The first and biggest pressure is on transport, and the second biggest impact is on food. Despite being the second biggest impact, it is the one that most affects the less favored, because low-income families do not spend money on gasoline, but spend money or almost all of their income from food,” he noted.

uncertainties

Food should continue as one of the vectors of inflation throughout 2022, in Braz’s assessment. This is because Brazil is going through a period of challenges caused simultaneously by a pandemic, war, high interest rates, timid GDP growth, higher fuel prices and inflation itself. “With these variables on the radar, it is very difficult for us to make a bet that the price of food will now stop rising or that this will be in the past”, he pondered.

The expectation for 2023 is not optimistic, since the year will be one of adjustments: “I believe that our inflation will still be far from the target. The inflation target for this year is 3.5% and the estimate for inflation is around 8%”.

*Interns under the supervision of Carlos Alexandre de Souza

Experts weigh government measures

While the federal government debates declaring a new state of public calamity in Brazil due to the increase in hunger, the effects of hyperinflation continue to impact the lives of Brazilians. The measure considered by the Executive, last defined at the beginning of the pandemic, would give fiscal opening to pay for fuel subsidies, one of the villains in the rise in prices.

Economist Márcio Pochmann, a professor at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) believes that the government itself is responsible for the rise in inflation. “Without tackling the causes, you need to act on the consequences,” he said. Among the possible policies that could be attacked to solve the problem, Pochmann highlighted the rise in electricity, the Import Price Parity Policy (PPI) practiced by Petrobras to calculate the value of a liter of gasoline or diesel, and recent announcements readjustment in the prices of health plans.

“It is an unequivocal indication that the government of Jair Bolsonaro is not interested in acting on the causes of inflation”, concluded Pochmann, who is part of the Economics group of the government program of pre-candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the main opponent of the current candidate. chief executive to the 2022 elections.

Researcher and professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) Giacomo Balbinotto indicates that the problem goes beyond interventional measures. “The measures do not have an immediate effect. There is a lag in economic policy actions, which take some time to be felt by the population”, he explained.

Villains

Fuel, food, transport are some of the main villains of the Broad National Consumer Price Index (IPCA) of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), which was 12.13% in the last twelve months. The situation is worse among families with income between one and five minimum wages, which shows that prices rose 12.47% in the same period.

As a result, there was a substantial increase in the number of families in extreme poverty enrolled in CadÚnico. In Auxílio Brasil alone, around 18 million families receive the benefit of R$ 400. This reflects a total of 11.3 million unemployed.

Balbinotto disagrees with speculation that the government is interested in keeping inflation high. “In general, no government accepts the responsibility for inflation. It imposes significant costs on the population, especially the low-income population, who have difficulties in maintaining purchasing power and have difficult access to the job market”, he evaluated.

For the election period, Balbinotto points out that candidates should have government plans drawn up with the fight against inflation as a central element. “Candidates must have very clear proposals on how to fight inflation. Which instruments to use and make it clear to the population that this effect is not immediate”, he points out.

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