Jack Monroe @BootstrapCook
12:30 PM · Jan 19, 2022
Woke up this morning to the radio talking about the cost of living rising a further 5%. It infuriates me the index that they use for this calculation, which grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation as it happens to people with the least. Allow me to briefly explain.
This time last year, the cheapest pasta in my local supermarket (one of the Big Four), was 29p for 500g. Today it’s 70p. That’s a 141% price increase as it hits the poorest and most vulnerable households.
This time last year, the cheapest rice at the same supermarket was 45p for a kilogram bag. Today it’s £1 for 500g. That’s a 344% price increase as it hits the poorest and most vulnerable households.
Baked beans: were 22p, now 32p. A 45% price increase year on year.
Canned spaghetti. Was 13p, now 35p. A price increase of 169%.
Bread. Was 45p, now 58p. A price increase of 29%.
Curry sauce. Was 30p, now 89p. A price increase of 196%.
A bag of small apples. Was 59p, now 89p (and the apples are even smaller!) A price increase of 51%.
Mushrooms were 59p for 400g. They’re now 57p for 250g. A price increase of 56%. (This practise, of making products smaller while keeping them the same price, is known in the retail industry as ‘shrinkflation’ and its insidious as hell because it’s harder to immediately spot.)
Peanut butter. Was 62p, now £1.50. A price increase of 142%.
These are just the ones that I know off the top of my head - there will be many many more examples! When I started writing my recipe blog ten years ago, I could feed myself and my son on £10 a week. (I’ll find the original shopping list later and price it up for today’s prices.)
The system by which we measure the impact of inflation is fundamentally flawed - it completely ignores the reality and the REAL price rises for people on minimum wages, zero hour contracts, food bank clients, and millions more.
But I guess when the vast majority of our media were privately educated and came from the same handful of elite universities, nobody thinks to actually check in with anyone out here in the world to see how we’re doing. (####ing terribly, thanks for asking.)
Every time there’s a news bulletin on the rising cost of living, I hope that today might be the day that that some real journalism happens, and someone stops to consider those of us outside of the bubble. Maybe today might finally be that day.
Former foodbank user. Campaigner against poverty and inequality. Budget recipe book author. Writer for hire. I don’t write the headlines.