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Food prices in October creep upward — increasing .4% over Sept.

Paper bag with groceries showing

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The cost of basic food items continues to increase in American Samoa, as confirmed by the Basic Food Index (BFI) report for October, released last Friday by the Commerce Department’s Statistical Division.

And the latest BFI shows a monthly increase of 0.4% over September 2022, the report says, noting that eleven food commodities contributed to the increase in October.

The BFI, which is a monthly rapid assessment of basic food items to monitor the cost and availability of 20 food products in the community, shows that, Ramen noodles, fondly known as ’saimini’ among locals, had a lower rate of increase in October, compared to the September hike of 12.8% — which was slight lower than the 14.7% price increase in August.

Nevertheless, according to the report, eleven out of twenty food commodities contributed to a 0.4 increase for October and it’s also the inflation rate for that month.

 The 11 commodities with price increases are fresh fish (1.9%), soft drinks (1.8%) ramen (1.5%), chicken legs (1.4%), sugar (1.3%), corned beef (0.6%) rice (0.6%), eggs (0.5%), ice cream (0.4%), mayonnaise (0.4% and sausage (0.3%).

Price comparison data in BFI report shows that the cost of fresh fish in October was $4.48 per pound compared to $4.40 per pound in September. For soft drinks, the report cites a 12-ounce can of Pepsi cost 99 cents in October, while it was 97 cents in September.

According to the BFI report, there was a decrease in October for four food commodities — turkey tails (-3.0%), taro (-0.6%), pork spare ribs (-0.3%) and fresh milk (-0.1%). However, bread, butter, water and canned tuna remain constant for October.

DOC explained that the trend in BFI and food costs has continued to rapidly increase the last 12 months. An annual comparison of the current BFI to the same month of last year shows that basic food costs increased by 21.8% — an average of about a 1.8% monthly increase in the past 12 months.

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.

Several consumers contacted over the weekend and up to yesterday have again told Samoa News that the prices are “slightly higher” for many of these food items — cited in the DOC report — at small “mom & pop” stores in the villages. And these are the stores frequently visited by customers and they are the ones that actually show the “real price of food” on Tutuila.

The current BFI reaffirmed consumers long standing complaints over the continued hike in the cost of basic food items, and this is especially important for low-income families.