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Grocery prices keep going up as evidenced in the August BFI

Leading the list are taro, milk, soda, chicken legs and 7 other items

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — For the second-consecutive month, imported taro, leads food items, which contributed to the increase in the Basic Food Index (BFI) — and this time the BFI has increased for the month of August.

Commerce Department’s Statistics & Analysis Division reported last month that a jump in price for ten food items — led by imported taro — contributed to the 1.9% increase in the BFI for July 2023, where imported taro prices hike to 9.8% compared to the previous month.

In the latest BFI released this week for the month of August, DOC reports that, the BFI increased by 1.1%. Eleven food commodities that contributed to this month’s increase are taro (9.0%), milk (4.1%), soda (3.9%), chicken legs (3.3%), sausage (3.0%), rice (2.6%), butter (1.5%), canned tuna (0.8%), ribs (0.6%), corned beef (0.5%), and sugar (0.1%).

Many consumers had hoped for a drop in food items during the summer months, but that’s not the case for July and August. Consumers, who spoke with Samoa News, are still hopeful for September, as the new school year begins and heading into October, with the biggest buying time is around White Sunday — which is celebrated every year on the second Sunday in October.

Some consumers have also questioned why buyers are purchasing imported taro — sold in local stores — when there are so many local farmers selling their home-grown taro at the Fagatogo Market Place or at roadside stands.

“Support our local farmers,” said a Western District farmer, who claimed to have a business license for his farm, which includes vegetables, and is a registered farmer with the Agriculture Department.

Data in the BFI report shows “imported” taro was $1.96 per pound in June but increased to $2.16 per found in July, then jumped to $2.35 a pound in August.

As previously reported by Samoa News, taro is imported from Samoa, where there have been reports of an increase in prices.

Data also shows that the price for a “10 kg case of chicken” was $17.73 in July but hiked to $18.32 in August. A carton of Fresh Milk was $2.47 in July but increased to $2.57 in August.

As for soda costs, according to data in the BFI report — a 12-ounce Pepsi can, which cost $1.09 in July has hiked to $1.14 in August. But the consumers who spoke with Samoa News say that it could be higher, at least $1.50 at other stores and probably much higher — nearly $2 a can at some restaurants and fast-food take-out places.

Some food commodities that have decreased in August are eggs (-8.7%), bread (-4.0%), bananas (-2.7%), turkey tails (-1.8%), fish (-1.3%), ice cream (-1.2%), and mayonnaise (-0.2%).

Other common commodities such as water (bottles) and ramen saimin, remain the same, according to the BFI report.

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.

DOC notes that the BFI is not to be confused with the Quarterly Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a comprehensive standard measure of inflation and the cost of living in American Samoa.

For more information, please contact DOC’s Statistics & Analysis Division at 633-0120 or email