Sodexo, one of the main suppliers of food stamps and meals in the country, carried out a survey at the request of the g1 which showed an increase in the average amount of credit granted by companies to employees in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year. The data are from the Sodexo Benefits and Incentives customer base.
In the first quarter of this year, companies of all sizes (small, medium and large) increased the average credit value of the Sodexo Food Pass and Sodexo Meal Pass benefits for their employees. For food stamps, there was an average increase of 10.08%. As for food stamps, the average value rose 7.42%.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter, the Broad Consumer Price Index (IPCA), which is the country’s official inflation measured by the IBGE, was 3.2%. However, food for consumption at home registered an increase of 6.3%. On the other hand, food outside the home rose less: 1.19%.
The food and beverage group, one of the nine major expenditure components that make up the IPCA survey, had a variation of 4.89% in the period.
In the 12-month period, the IPCA was 11.3% up to March. Food at home rose 13.73%, and food away from home, 6.22%.
In relation to salary readjustments, accumulated in the first quarter, 7 out of 10 negotiations were below or equal to the index of 3.42%, which was the variation of the National Consumer Price Index (INPC), a reference indicator for the increases. The survey is from the Inter-union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (Dieese).
According to the entity, the average real variation (discounting inflation) of readjustments in the period was negative by 0.49%, which reflects the predominance of results below the INPC.
The readjustments that were below the INPC had the highest proportion: 39.9%. Already 30.9% had readjustments equal to the INPC. And the smallest proportion (29.2%) had an increase above the inflation rate.
The Southeast had the highest percentage of readjustments above the INPC (41.9%). The South had the highest percentage of results equal to or greater than inﬂation (72.6%) and the lowest of readjustments below the INPC (27.4%). The least favorable performances are from the Midwest, with 62.7% of readjustments below the INPC and only 17.8% of the readjustments above the INPC.
Higher average ticket value is in the Southeast and Midwest
By type of company size, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) increased the average value of food stamps by 7.07%, and large companies by 10.84%. As for food stamps, SMEs rose by 7.01%, and large corporations, by 6%.
Workers in the Midwest region were the ones who obtained the highest average value in the balance of food stamps in the first three months of this year, with an average value of R$ 534.41. Then come the South regions, with R$ 528.64; North, with R$ 433.19; Northeast, with R$ 409.35; and Southeast, with R$ 392.76.
Regarding food stamps, the highest averages were found in the Southeast, with R$ 518.24. Then come the Midwest, with R$ 463.04; South, with R$ 453.72; Northeast, with R$ 444.21; and North, with R$ 431.52.
The city of São Paulo registered an average increase in the value of food stamps by 15.95%, which rose to R$335.56, and of meal vouchers by 8.25%, with the average value reaching R$522, 12.
Companies follow the direction of the economy
Meal vouchers and meals are benefits that are not covered by labor legislation, therefore, companies are free to offer them or not to workers, as well as stipulate readjustments, unless the rules are provided for in a convention or category collective agreement.
The readjustments are generally not related to the increase in wages, but to inflationary rates, with the objective of avoiding the loss of workers’ purchasing power with inflation.
According to Rodrigo Somogyi, product director at Sodexo Benefits and Incentives, the hypothesis for this rise in ticket prices is that companies understand that employee productivity is directly linked to the quality of their food.
“With inflation accelerating, affecting mainly food, people have daily faced the challenge of being able to keep a nutritious and balanced meal within their budget. This is the reason why we see that there was a rise in the value made available by the companies for the benefit of food stamps and meal vouchers”, he says.
For Somogyi, companies always follow the directions of the economy and the market to take actions that can contribute to their business. “This inflationary moment shows that companies are investing in their employees, starting with increasing the value of the benefit balance to maintain the good productivity of their staff”.
The product director of Sodexo Benefits and Incentives clarifies that companies have complete freedom to decide on increasing benefits.
“We, as partners, seek to support HRs in this decision making, so we carry out market research and studies by cities and regions, industry segments, average spending, inflation so that companies use the benefits strategically to attract and retain talent”.
Pandemic has dammed purchasing power
Cristiano Fontes, Director of Strategy and Development at Ticket, Edenred Brasil’s employee benefits brand, states that, historically, companies update the values of food and meal benefits, mainly due to the accumulated inflation of the period.
“At certain times, however, we see that some companies do not make this update and, as a result, the purchasing power of the worker drops, impacting not only the quality and nutritional value of food, but also their own health”, he says.
Fontes points out that in this period of pandemic, a loss of the value of benefits was perceived, due to the increase in prices, which led to a damming of purchasing power that needs to be updated by companies.
“In addition, another factor was remote work, which changed eating habits, with repercussions on household budgets. With the return to face-to-face or hybrid work, a reassessment of the value offered to the worker’s new routine is necessary,” he says.
Return to face-to-face work increases consumption of popular food
Brazilian cuisine was the most consumed in the face-to-face and delivery modalities — Photo: Freepik
A survey carried out by Ticket, based on transactions made with the Ticket Restaurante benefit, shows that Brazilian cuisine was the most consumed in person in May, with an average amount spent of R$ 38.47.
Then come the snack bar and bakery categories, with average values of R$ 28.26 and R$ 27.06, respectively. In the same period last year, Brazilian food ranked second, behind bakery, which reached the top of the ranking, and ahead of snack bar, which at the time was in third place.
According to Felipe Gomes, general director of Ticket, the return of many people to face-to-face work may explain this increase in consumption in the category, represented by popular food restaurants, which offer dishes consisting of rice, beans, meat and salad, and it concentrates the establishments that sell food by the kilo or the famous dish made.
“In large business centers, Brazilian cuisine restaurants are usually more sought after by workers, both for the variety and for the more affordable price. The drop in bakery foods from 1st to 3rd place, on the other hand, can be explained by the fact that people are commuting more to work places, having fewer meals close to home”, he comments.
Fast food (R$34.77), meat (R$54.78), pizzeria (R$52.34), coffee and sweets (R$24.74); and Italian (R$ 39.91) are the categories that complete the classification of the eight cuisines most consumed by workers in the month of May. Also compared to the same period in 2021, Japanese food, which occupied the eighth place, left the ranking of types of food most consumed in person, giving way to Italian cuisine.
The survey also shows that Brazilian food was also the most consumed in delivery orders, with an average price of R$ 41.64, followed by the snack bar (R$ 36.01) and pizzeria (R$ 59.30) categories. Next are bakeries (R$27.91), fast food (R$58.83), meat (R$67.61), coffee and sweets (R$20.79); and Japanese (R$ 79.53).
Eat-in meals cost an average of 24% more in May 2022 compared to eating at restaurants.
As in the face-to-face modality, when comparing the classification of types of food most ordered in delivery in May this year with the same period in 2021, Japanese cuisine did not maintain its position, moving from 7th to 8th place. The bakery category rose from 6th to 4th place.
“Japanese food tends to have a slightly higher price, which may explain the drop in consumption, since many people are going through a period of reduced spending due to high inflation”, says Felipe Gomes.