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Showing posts with the label food prices

The Food Stamp Nation

“I’ve got two children,” she says. “I’ve got to have food.”So do 46 million other Americans. In fact, if the Americans using food stamps constituted a country, they would be the 27th largest nation in the world.In the first minutes of each month, food stamp purchases at 24-hour Wal-Marts across the country surge as those relying upon food stamps drives through the dark to purchase sorely needed food.“Our sales for those first few hours on the first day of the month are substantially and significantly higher,” Wal-Mart CEO William S. Simon told a Goldman Sachs conference 18 months ago. “If you really think about it, the only reason somebody goes out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it — and they’ve been waiting for it.” Studies show that food stamps typically last only 17.5 daysLaunched under Kennedy , first as a pilot project and later permanently by Johnson as part of his “War on Poverty,” food stamps (technically known as the federal Supple…

Paying the Price

The number of people going bankrupt has seen its biggest quarterly rise in three years, up 25% on the previous quarter.

Official figures from insolvency supervisors Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) showed 5,319 personal insolvencies in Scotland in the first quarter of the current tax year. It is the biggest increase since 2008.

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Lucy McTernan said many Scots struggling with heavy debts were choosing bankruptcy as the "lesser of two evils".
She said, "If you are struggling with debt which has become unmanageable, and you really can't see a way out of it, then bankruptcy can be your only realistic course of action."

Experts warned the increase is only the "start of a trend" in the months ahead as the full impact of spending cuts and a stagnant economy start to bite.

Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner with accountancy firm PKF, said: "This dramatic rise in the number of personal bankruptcies in Scot…

Malnutrition in the UK ?

“We think we are heading towards malnutrition happening here in the UK.” - Save the Children’s Colette Marshall told the BBC. "Benefits simply haven’t been enough and with rising food costs it means that families cannot afford to give children proper decent food. "

Children are being deprived of dietary staples and instead are being raised on cheap packaged food high in fat, salt and sugar. The Grocer magazine shows food prices rising by almost a fifth over the past year, with basic essentials such as rice and milk among the worst hit.

The crazy logic of capitalist economics

The Sunday Times has found that home-grown products are being transported thousands of miles overseas for processing before being put on sale back in Britain. Socialist Courier reported this market madness back here .

Scottish prawns are being hand-shelled in China, Atlantic haddock caught off Scotland is being prepared in Poland and Welsh cockles are being sent to Holland to be put in jars before going on sale in Britain. Meanwhile, products grown overseas are taking circuitous routes to Britain. African-grown coffee is being packed 3,500 miles away in India, Canadian prawns are processed in Iceland, and Bolivian nuts are being packed in Italy.“We are producing food in one corner of the world, packing it in another and then shipping it somewhere else. It’s mad.”

Dawnfresh, a Scottish seafood company that supplies supermarkets and other large retailers, cut 70 jobs last year after deciding to ship its scampi more than 5,000 miles to China to be shelled by hand, then shipped back to t…

Growing poverty

The number of people living in poverty in the world's 50 least developed countries is rising despite their economies growing at the fastest pace in 30 years, a UN report said
In its annual Least Developed Countries Report, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said that overall growth rates of 7% in the countries between 2005 and 2006 should have provided an opportunity for "substantial improvements" in living conditions. But three-quarters of their people continue to survive on less than $2 (£1) a day and 277 million people live on less than $1 a day, compared with 265 million in 2000 and 245 million in 1995.Low progress in reducing poverty means the countries will not be able to achieve the first of the UN millennium development goals, halving the proportion of those living on less than $1 a day between 1990 and 2015. To achieve this, they would need to cut their absolute poverty rate to 20% by 2015. Unctad said that if current trends continue…

Getting along wih less to go on

Average families have seen their disposable incomes drop by £8 a week in the past year, research suggests.

Although earnings rose by £23 a week, or 3.6%. that was outstripped by taxes, which rose 6.5%, and higher bills for essential items such as food and fuel. This week government figures showed that higher fuel and food bills had driven annual inflation to its highest level for 11 years.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King , also warned that real incomes would stagnate this coming year.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research said the average family had an income of £633 a week, which was 3.6% higher than May 2007. However, it found taxes and national insurance had risen by 6.5% over that time. Adding in the effect of more expensive essential spending - such as transport fares, utility bills, food, clothes and housing - meant that these families now had, typically, just £131 left to spend on other things - a drop of 6%.

the shopping price hike

High food costs have added £15 to a weekly supermarket shop for a family of four in the UK, new research suggests.
Comparison website MySupermarket says a basket of 24 staple items including tea bags, milk and eggs costs 15% more than it did 12 months ago. The findings are based on its price comparisons of certain everyday items at Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.
The increases mean that families spending an average of £100 a week on food will be spending £780 a year more at a time when customers are under increasing pressure from higher mortgage, petrol and energy costs.
Johnny Stern, managing director of MySupermarket said: "The conclusion is that supermarkets are passing on a sizeable amount of the increased costs."
The price of wheat, rice and maize have nearly doubled in the past year . Analysts have warned that the higher prices are threatening to drive an extra 100 million people worldwide into poverty.
White loaf at Sainsbury's and Tesco: 65p - up 20%
Butter: 94p -…

hunger: it’s a market thing

From Ian Bell of the Sunday Herald

Lots of food, lots of hunger: it’s a market thing.

Last week the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development was published...Its main findings were simple enough, however. There is enough food for everyone. It is cheaper and, broadly, more nutritious than it has been in decades, but 800 million go hungry...

...there are no food shortages. Instead, according to one of those complicated theories they teach at Oxford and the like, there are money shortages. Or rather - and this is apparently so complicated it never gets discussed - some people are very short of money and some are anything but...

...The relationships between land, food security, politics and bread at £1.13 a loaf are not abstract. The laws of economics should not be mistaken for acts of God...

As Bell writes , the law of economics is not abstract but neither is it complicated . Simply put , in capitalism , if you cannot pay , you cannot have , no matter yo…

Food Prices Rise

The Socialist Courier has already reported here about the rise in the world prices of food but today's Herald carried an article on the local effects .

Families are paying record prices for food after costs soared in the year to February, with a rate increase exceeded only by fuel costs.

Annual food product inflation has reached 8.4% - the highest since records began in 1986 - according to the Office for National Statistics . Meat prices were the main culprit of spiralling costs as fresh and preserved meat prices rose 5.5% from January to February.

Food manufacturers such as Hovis bread maker Premier Foods have been labouring under rising wheat costs. Imported cereal product prices are up more than 6% over the month and surging by almost 47% in the year to February.

1957 and 2006 - Are we better off ?

What difference does 50 years make for the working class . Are we all better off . Well , it certainly appears that way . UK household income has doubled in real terms over the last fifty years. And the pattern of family spending has also changed dramatically. Basic necessities including food accounting for a smaller proportion of our family budget, while spending is up on leisure activities, travel and motoring. Income going to housing makes up a greater share. According to the BBC and the Office of National Statistics

In 1957, spending on food, fuel and rent , the basic three items , made up nearly half of all household expenditure. Taken together with clothing and travel, basics made up nearly two-thirds of family spending. The main luxuries for the ordinary family were tobacco and alcohol, which combined made up just under 10% of spending. The biggest other luxury item was meals eaten out making up 3% of spending. Four of the top ten spending items were food or drink, with spending…

Price fixing at your local supermarket

Always first with the news , Socialist Courier reported here the Capitalist Scam of supposed rivals and competitors co-operating to fix prices of goods to extract extra profits .

And lo and behold , what should appear on the BBC , but the revelation that Sainsbury's and Asda have admitted fixing the price of milk and cheese and who along with a number of dairy firms, have agreed to pay fines totalling at least £116 million following an inquiry by the Office of Fair Trading . Cases against Tesco and Morrisons will continue after no deal was struck.

The OFT said that its evidence found that while dairy product prices went up after the collusion, the price received by farmers did not increase. The price fixing saw customers being charged 3p extra for a pint of milk and 15p extra per quarter-pound of butter. Customers also being allegedly overcharged 15p per half-pound of cheese .

In September, the watchdog provisionally found evidence of collusion by 10 firms relating to price-set…

Price Fixers

Capitalism is all about competition , right ? Wrong , if these stories are to go by .

Four of the world's biggest glass manufacturers have been fined a total of £348.2million for illegally co-ordinating price rises. The firms are Guardian of the US, Pilkington, which is the UK unit of Nippon Sheet Glass, Saint-Gobain of France and Belgium's Glaverbel. The European Commission said the firms had raised or stabilised prices in 2004 and 2005 through illicit contacts.

Between them they control 80% of Europe's market for flat glass. Flat glass is used in products such as windows, glass doors and mirrors.

Then there was this in Canada too

Regulators have launched an investigation into allegations of price-fixing by some of the biggest makers of chocolate bars in Canada. Officials from the Canadian divisions of Nestle, Cadbury, Hershey and Mars confirmed the probe is underway.

"We can confirm that we are investigating alleged anticompetitive practices in the chocolate confectioner…

Days of Cheap Food to End

Mark Hill, food and agriculture partner at Deloitte, the accountancy firm , warned that rising demand for wheat and maize was bound to result in increases in the price of staple foods. The era of cheap, subsidised food, which had lasted since the war, was over, he said. We are going to see sustained price inflation - a general upward trend for staple foods such as grains, milk and meat.

The price of milk, poultry and pork is also expected to increase because of a rise in the cost of livestock feed . Wheat and maize prices are at their highest level in more than a decade.

The growing trend of turning wheat and corn into alternative fuels had come at a time when stocks had been run down. Grain supplies were already under pressure as a result of bad weather that reduced harvests and pushed up prices last year. Population increases and growing affluence in China and India could double global grain consumption within the next 40 years.