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DOC and storeowners attribute rise in food prices to shipping costs

carton of eggs

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —Eleven food commodities contributed to the slight increase of 0.09% in the Basic Food Index (BFI) for March and the hike in retail prices is attributed to freight costs, according to the March 2023 BFI released this week by the Commerce Department’s Statistics and Analysis Division.

Of the 20 food commodities in the monthly BFI, the DOC said eleven of food items contributed to the March growth. DOC points out that the two commodities that have significantly increased are eggs (22%) and milk (13.5%).

“The usual cause of the increase in retail price is freight,” the BFI report said, adding that other food items that recorded an increase in March are bread (7.7%), mayonnaise (4.4%), spare-ribs (3.8%), soda (3.0%), turkey tail (1.9%), sausage (1.4%), rice (1.4%), butter (1.1%), and corned beef (1.0%).

Data in the report shows that the average price in February for a dozen small eggs was $2.58 and it spiked to $3.15 in March. For milk, a fresh carton was $2.14 in February but increased to $2.43 in March.

Both of these commodities saw steep increases on the mainland as well.

Even with an overall increase in the BFI for March, the report said some food commodities have decreased, such as chicken legs, fish, ramen noodles, ice cream, and sugar.

Other common commodities such as bottled water taro, banana, and canned tuna have remained the same.

While consumers are hoping for a drop in prices, there is nothing much the stores and importers can do when it comes to freight costs, says one store owner, when contacted yesterday for a reaction.

“This is what happens when we depend on imported goods, the shipping and freight costs are added on to the retail price at the store,” said another store operation.

According to DOC, 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.