Global Food Crisis

Growing Economy Brings Price Pain to Brazilian Eaters

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That's a moderate increase compared to the skyrocketing prices seen in other countries. But overall, Brazilians now pay more than a fifth of their incomes just to feed themselves.

The impact is most severe for low-income families like Nascimento's, since food takes up a large portion of their domestic incomes, experts say.

Some of the reasons for Brazil's price increases are local, such as poor harvests of black beans and tomatoes.

But a lot of the pressure comes from abroad.

So even though Brazil is self-sufficient in oil and is a leading food producer—the country is the biggest world exporter of soya, sugar, coffee, corn, oranges, beef, and chicken—it is suffering from global price increases.

Soaring oil prices—one of the main causes for the global crisis—have made food costs rise between 15 and 20 percent in Brazil, said agriculture minister Reinhold Stephanes.

Rice is another example. Brazil produces nearly everything it consumes, but international markets have made wholesale prices soar by 31 percent in April, says Conab, the national supply institute.

(Related: "Australia's Long Drought Withering Wheat, Rice Supplies" [May 29, 2008].)

As a result, the Brazilian government suspended exports of the product on April 23 and is encouraging the private sector to do the same to help curb inflation.

The rising prices are forcing Nina Frant, 27, to reprint the menus of the café she owns in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.

Chocolate croissants, specialty breads, and pies are some of the items that will come with higher prices.

"All my suppliers have readjusted their prices this year at least 10 percent," she said. "I had no other choice but to do the same."

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