As inflation hit fresh highs in recent months in part due to lack of cheaper rice varieties sold by the government, the Department of Agriculture suggested consumers should consider shifting to corn, or a mixture of rice and corn, as staple food. A measure of how fast consumer prices are going up from the year before, the Philippines’ inflation rate hit 6.4 percent in August, the highest since March 2009.
No doubt, there are health, gastronomical and even cultural reasons in favor of consuming corn, a popular rice substitute in many parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. It’s considered more filling and can help manage diabetes, according to agriculture secretary Manny Piñol.
But, if the idea is to escape rising inflation, shifting to corn may not be a very good idea.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), corn prices went up by 12.6 percent in the year to August 2018 compared to only 7.1 percent for rice. That means corn prices are rising at a faster pace than rice prices.
The PSA data also showed that the best option to avoid high inflation is to go for other cereals, bread, pasta and flour, which is used to make noodles. Prices for these items rose by only 3.2 percent during the same period.
Using PSA consumer price indices, Entrepreneur Philippines compared the inflation rates of several consumer items used by households, focusing on those that could be substituted for each other. By choosing items with lower inflation, smart buyers can potentially avoid higher price increases. (See infographic)
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The following are some insights that can be gleaned from the inflation comparisons:
Amid surging fish prices, it may be more affordable to source your protein from meat and even from eggs as well as cheese.
With higher increases in vegetable prices, it may be a good idea to get your fiber from fruits instead. As a dessert, fruits are more affordable compared to jams and chocolate.
Now’s a good time to give up cigarettes as tobacco prices climbed by almost 30 percent in August. However, it may be harder to forego alcoholic drinks, whose prices are rising slower than non-alcoholic beverages.
If you’re planning to shop for clothes, shoes and personal care products, now may be time to do it as price increases for these items are relatively modest compared to grocery goods. Shopping for that Christmas gift list now is also a good idea.
Just make sure that you take public transport on your way to the mall though. According to the latest price index, using your own car has become costlier by more than 20 percent while transport services rose by less than three percent.
For recreation, you’re better off reading books, whose prices moved up by only 1.5 percent, compared to watching movies (as well as plays and concerts), whose cost went up by almost a tenth.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz