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MALTATODAY 12 June 2022

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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 12 JUNE 2022 MALTATODAY SURVEY KURT SANSONE INFLATION is the foremost worry among voters, with food prices being at the heart of the problem, according to a Malta- Today survey. The findings show that 28.1% of people consider inflation and higher food prices as their principle worry. This is more than double the number of people who indicated inflation as a main concern last March and is a reflection of the ex- orbitant price rises across the board. Inflation had been on the rise towards the end of last year on the back of supply chain dis- ruptions caused by the pan- demic but shifted into top gear after the Russian invasion of Ukraine hit energy and food prices. In March, when the impact of the Russian invasion only start- ed being felt, inflation came in as the second highest concern with 12%. The topmost concern back then was corruption with 20.4% but this has now slipped into insignificance with less than 1% indicating corruption as a concern. The latest survey results show that the war in Ukraine is the second topmost concern with 6.4%. This is almost double what it was in March when the war was the seventh highest concern at 3.3%. Russia invaded its neighbour at the end of February and has been trying to occupy vast swathes of territory amid widespread de- struction and death. The third highest con- cern is health with 4.9% of people citing health-related issues as their primary cause for worry. The survey does not indicate whether the concern is related to the individual's state of health or whether it's just a general concern about well- being. This excludes those concerned about COV- ID-19, which was in- dicated by 1.3% of re- spondents. Back in March, COVID came in fourth with 9% saying it was their principle con- cern. Traffic and roads are the fourth top concern with 2.3% of people, either indicating the discomfort caused by roadworks or the state of road congestion. This represents a significant drop from 10.9% who identi- fied traffic and roads as a con- cern in March. Concerns about construction and the environment were far less pronounced in May than they were in March. The latest findings show that the largest cohort of peo- ple, 35.7% could not indicate any particular concern, while 11.4% indicated a myriad of other issues. The survey was conduct- ed between Monday 16 May and Wednesday 25 May 2022. The survey was completed by 656 respondents and stratified random sampling based on re- gion, age and gender was used to replicate the Maltese demo- graphic. The estimated margin of error is 4.3% for a confidence interval of 95% for the overall results. KURT SANSONE YOUR homemade stir fry has just become more expensive to cook with the price of vegetable oil jumping up as a result of Rus- sia's invasion of Ukraine. A one-litre bottle of edible oil has risen by as much as €1 in some instances over a matter of weeks as exports from Ukraine, the world's largest producer of sunflower oil, ground to a halt. This has pushed prices of sun- flower oil and alternatives up. It is a reflection of the food in- flation that is biting hard into people's pockets with an official from a supermarket chain telling MaltaToday, prices of all im- ports have risen "significantly" over the past three months. "It is not just staple foods like oils and cereals that have sky- rocketed but everything else, including services that we make use of," he said. Food, including alcohol and tobacco, accounts for 21.8% of Malta's consumption basket, making it an important driver of inflation, according to Abigail Marie Rapa, senior economist within the Economic Analysis Department of the Central Bank of Malta. According to an analysis she carried out of food inflation that was published in the CBM's Outlook for the Maltese Econo- my released last Friday, the con- tribution of food prices to over- all inflation as measured by the harmonised index of consum- er prices (HICP) rose from 0.2 points in April 2021 to 1.6 points a year later. "Food inflation in Malta has exceeded that of the euro ar- ea from April 2021 onwards. By April 2022, food inflation in Malta stood 1.2 percentage points higher than in the euro area," Rapa wrote in her report. Grocery bill getting heftier Malta imports around 70% of its food products and is there- fore particularly susceptible to developments in international food prices. Inflation is a global phenome- non with the Food and Agricul- tural Organisation (FAO) Food Price Index for April showing an increase of 29.8% from a year earlier. The FAO index is a measure of international prices of a basket of food commodities, namely meat, dairy, cereals, oils and sugar. It shows that oils rose by 46.5% and cereals by 34.3%. Rapa quotes from the latest EU trade data for February 2022, released just before the war in Ukraine started. Prices of cereals and feed for animals increased by 29.4% and 22.2% respective- ly, putting upward pressures on prices of cereals and meat in Malta. Since then, prices have con- tinued to increase exponentially as a result of the disruption of grain and sunflower oil exports from Ukraine and constriction of trade with Russia as a result of sanctions. The household grocery bill has been getting heftier by the day. Today's euro does not buy the same basket of goods it used to yesterday and this is also reflect- ed in MaltaToday's survey of Concern over rising food prices more than doubles in two months Concerns in May 2022 Food inflation is frying your purse

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