Ramen Imports Surge in Belize Amidst Soaring Food Prices: CPI Reveals 4.5% Increase in Cost of Living
Imports of Ramen noodles skyrocketed this year as Belizeans continue to grapple with the high cost of living. Today, the Statistical Institute of Belize’s consumer price index for January to October 2023 shows that Belizeans paid an average of four-point-five percent more for goods and services when compared to last year. That increase was primarily due to rising food costs, which were up by twelve-point-five percent. Commodities like evaporated milk saw a forty-three percent increase, while oranges and carrots saw increases of thirty-four and thirty-two percent, respectively. Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician 2, says that, given the context of the increase in food prices, the Institute had to highlight the notable rise in ramen imports, while SIB’s Director General Diana Castillo-Trejo says that the increase is not surprising.
Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician 2: “80%. So for this period, the January to October 2020 period when you compare that to 2022, it grew by 80%. And that is one of the largest increases we have ever seen for this period. We saw that increase as well in 2021, something similar, and now in 2023. But prior to that, within this period, we didn’t see an increase like that. And that’s why I mentioned it, right? It stands out.”
Diana Castillo-Trejo, Director General, Statistical Institute of Belize: “Well, it stands out, as my statistician pointed out, it stands out, which is why we highlighted it. But it makes sense, you know, food prices are one of the categories that continue to see rapid increases. And because food makes up such a big part of households total budget, it is something that households will feel. And when the food that you normally consume or buy gets more expensive you will naturally look for cheaper alternatives and so it makes sense with rising food prices that perhaps persons are trying to stretch their dollar a little more and transition or switch from more costly items.”
Castillo-Trejo added that food prices have been trending upward at exorbitant rates since 2020. She says food prices have risen by almost thirty percent over the past three years.
Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician 2: “So from year to year, for example, for the first 10 months of this year compared to that same period last year food prices are up about 12 percent, just food prices up 12 percent compared to last year. And food was one of the categories where immediately we started seeing the effects of COVID in terms of prices. So, you know, COVID started early in the year by April we were starting to see rising food prices especially in things like fresh produce. So it has been consistently rising and it has been so since 2020. And in fact if you look at where the CPI for food stands right now, compared to 2020, food prices have gone up by about 29% compared to three years ago. So yes, while there are many other prices that go into the inflation rate and certainly we don’t spend all our income on food, for persons whose household budget a lot of that is taken up by food purchases or food costs they will most naturally feel the effects of this very large increase overall in terms of food.”
Other items that saw major price increases included cilantro, up by a hundred and twenty percent, plantains by seventy-three percent, and limes by forty-seven percent. Watermelons, pigtails, and pineapples were the only commodities that saw a decrease in price over the survey period.