Brazilian trades chester for bakery chicken to save on Christmas

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Brazilian trades chester for bakery chicken to save on Christmas

André Luís de Carvalho Pacheco, 44, intends to gather his family to celebrate Christmas this year, after the period marked by the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But, as food inflation continues at a high level, residents of Rio de Janeiro are looking for options to save on supper.

One of them is already defined: Pacheco is going to replace the chester, a traditional Christmas bird, with bakery chicken.

In addition to spending less on the supper’s main product, he plans to save cooking gas, another item that has become more expensive in the country.

“I’m going to spend about R$36 to buy a chicken at the bakery. The chester would be much more expensive, not counting the work of roasting in the oven”, says Pacheco, who is a street vendor and has a yakissoba stall in the Rio de Janeiro capital.

Like him, other Brazilians are also looking for alternatives to celebrate Christmas without putting so much pressure on their pockets.

The general inflation index eased in the second half of this year, but food prices still show double-digit highs.

The food and beverages group advanced 11.84% in the accumulated 12 months until November, according to the IPCA (National Index of Consumer Prices). It is double the general inflation measured by the official indicator in the same period (5.90%).

Publicity and advertising student Camila Mazzochin, 21, says her family’s Christmas dinner won’t have meat for the first time.

The resident of Caxias do Sul (about 120 km from Porto Alegre), in the Serra Gaúcha, is the only vegetarian in the house. However, as animal protein prices have risen in recent years, household consumption has been reduced.

“My family started to consume less meat, and this year we thought of doing something different”, says the young woman.

To save money on vegetables for a dinner for five people, Camila bets on her mother’s vegetable garden. Fruit and vegetable prices were pressured by adverse weather in the first half of the year.

“The garden has helped a lot to save money”, reports the young woman.

The family of economist Evânia Rodrigues, 35, is also planning changes to the menu for Christmas 2022. According to the resident of João Pessoa, all supper will be prepared at home.

Until last year, part of the meal was purchased from a buffet, including dishes such as sausage, lasagna and stroganoff.

Despite the fact that food items for consumption at home have risen in the year, Evânia projects savings of 50% to 60% in exchange expenses – the supper will be for 14 people.

“In the last two years, we bought part of the supper. Now, we decided to do it ourselves”, says the resident of the capital of Paraíba.

Ceia rises almost 10%

On average, the price of a basket of products typical of Christmas dinner rose by 9.8% in the country, according to a survey by Abras (Brazilian Association of Supermarkets).

The value was calculated at R$ 294.75 at the beginning of the month, R$ 26.30 more than in the same period of 2021 (R$ 268.45).

The basket analyzed is composed of ten products: Christmas birds, olive oil, box of bonbons, sparkling wine, loin, panettone, ham, turkey, cider and tenderloin.

When disclosing the data, Abras pondered that the calculation still did not include the effect of possible discounts on the eve of the festive date.

Even with higher prices, 66% of supermarkets project higher consumption than Christmas 2021, according to the association. Another 27% expect the same level as last year, while 7% estimate a lower level of business.

Christmas 2022 should move BRL 65.01 billion in Brazilian retail sales, according to the CNC (National Confederation of Commerce in Goods, Services and Tourism).

If the expectation is confirmed, the sector will have a real increase (discounting inflation) of 1.2%, the first after two years of losses. Even so, it should not equal the level of 2019 (R$ 67.55 billion), before the pandemic.

The forecast was revised downwards, as the CNC initially projected a higher rise of 2.1%.

According to the entity, the branch of hypermarkets and supermarkets should be the highlight in terms of financial transactions at Christmas, accounting for 38.6% of the total volume – or R$ 25.12 billion.

Despite the still positive expectation, the senior economist at CNC, Fabio Bentes, assesses that the high cost of food forces consumers to look for options to save money.

“It is a natural behavior in a scenario in which food inflation puts a lot of pressure on families”, he says.

Bentes considers that high interest rates and commitment of income to debt tend to hinder a more consistent expansion of retail as a whole.

This combination of factors makes it particularly difficult to sell products that cost more and are linked to credit, points out the economist.

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