A new study by Caritas shows that families in Malta are spending at least €100 more per month on food.
Maltese families are spending a minimum of €100 more per month on food, according to a new study by Caritas that develops a minimum essential budget for a decent living.
The study was done in February, prior to the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops, which has caused the price of basic foods to increase even more.
Between July 2020 (when the study was last conducted) and February 2022, the prices of staple foods increased by 20% according to the study by Caritas.
The study which was revealed today used the same household goods that were used in the 2020 study.
Two years ago, a family of two adults and two children would spend around €600 per month on basic staple foods to live decently. However, according to the study the same family would have to spend €700, without changing any of the products that they purchased.
Similarly, a single-parent family with two children would spend around €430 per month on basic foodstuffs in 2020, but in 2022 the price went up to €526.
The study also showed that the cost of medicines and healthcare-related items increased significantly. Whereas at the beginning of the pandemic a four-person family would spend €307 a year on these items, nowadays they would need to spend €355 to buy the same items.
The difference between this year’s study and the previous 2020 study is that this year’s study is the inclusion of a COVID-19 protection package which includes one disposable mask a day per person, a dozen 100ml bottles of sanitiser a year and two extra boxes of paracetamol per year.
According to the study, the category of elderly couples is the demographic which faced the worst repercussions of the rise in prices. In 2020, an elderly couple would spend around €280 per month on basic foodstuffs. In 2022, they needed to spend €350 per month on the same items.
They were also made to spend 36% more on medicines and healthcare items than they had to in 2020. When taking COVID-19 prevention items into account, such as disposable masks, sanitisers and paracetamol, elderly couples are forced to spend €400 more on medicine and healthcare items.
In light of the results of the study, Caritas made numerous recommendations, such as the development of no-waste food apps so that low-income families can be connected to sources of surplus or food which is about to expire and go to waste.
They recommended that should such an app be developed, special pick-up locations should be set up to collect such items from supermarkets and restaurants.
After the study revealed that the Ta’ Qali farmers’ market is one of the cheapest sources of fruits and vegetables, Caritas recommended that the number of farmers’ markets around the island be increased. It also suggested that each main locality should have direct buses every Tuesday and Saturday to the Ta’ Qali market.
Caritas insisted that a scheme should be set up for subsidised vegetables and fruit to be delivered weekly to the elderly. They also suggested that community urban agriculture schemes are organised where low-income families are supported to grow their own food for personal consumption.
In regards to health, Caritas recommended healthy food prescriptions for people in the early stages of chronic disease, rather than an immediate high dose of medication.
They suggested that these prescriptions be handed out as vouchers by a doctor, giving recipients the opportunity to purchase fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and pulses to manage and treat their condition.
The government could also offer low-income earners rebates when the annual expenditure on prescribed medicines and healthcare-related items surpasses particular thresholds, Caritas said.
The final recommendation by Caritas was to lower taxes on restaurants specialising in healthy menus and by elimination, this would also mean a lower tax for customers of such establishments.
Do you know anyone affected by the change in prices?