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BFI shows food prices eased slightly in January

Paper bag with groceries showing

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A slight decline in the cost of turkey tails and seven other commodities contributed to the decrease in the Basic Food Index (BFI) last month, according to the January 2023 BFI released last week by the Commerce Department’s Statistics and Analysis Division.

However, the BFI shows that several other food items increased in price at the start of the new year 2023, in which consumers are hoping for a big drop in cost of living after the spike last year, especially in the cost of food.

According to DOC, from January to December 2022, the BFI increased by 13.5%.

For January 2023, DOC reports that the BFI slightly declined by -0.3%. And eight food commodities contributed to the decline including turkey tails -5.4%; chicken legs -5.3%; fresh milk -1.3%; taro -1.0%; ice cream -1.0%; eggs: -0.9%; and soda -0.3%.

Data in the BFI report, shows that turkey tails in December 2022 were at $2.14 a pound, but dropped to $2.03 per pound last month. Data also shows that a case of chicken was $18.01 last December but dropped to $17.92 in January 2023.

Although there is a drop in the BFI, DOC reports that some food commodities such as rice, ribs, sausage, banana, bread, mayonnaise, corned beef and butter have increased. Likewise, some commodities also remained constant such as fish, water, ramen and canned tuna.

A total of 14 major to mid-sized retail stores have been selected for monitoring basic food costs on Tutuila island — from the far-west side to the far-east side.

Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga last week Thursday informed the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the state of U.S territories that American Samoa’s inflation rate is at 11% and noted the high costs in construction, shipping to the territory and food.

 He said some of these issues contributed to the high inflation rate for American Samoa — which is far away from the U.S. mainland.

The cost of food in the territory has been a major concern voiced by consumers and raised by lawmakers since the Fono convened in early January for the new 38th Legislature.

According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report issued by DOC last month, the group with the highest annual percentage of change, as usual, is Food, which increased by 13% in the 4th quarter compared to the previous year’s quarter.