Grocery/Food Price Inflation 2007-2011, Iloilo City, Philippines

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Iloilo City Central Market, Philippines

We live in Iloilo City and keep quite close track of our food expenditures.  We had read about soaring food price inflation in the Philippines so we decided to see how much our own food expenditures had risen.  Bear in mind that our figures include the non-food items we buy at the grocery store such as soap products and a few other incidentals.  Since our income is in US dollars, we keep track of our expenses in dollars.

On Sept. 30, 07 the exchange rate was P45.20 pesos per USD.  On Sept. 30, 08 the exchange rate was P47.25 per USD.  I don’t have the math skills to make much more sense of this for peso purchasers.

I do note that the rice we buy is a premium quality rice variety called Malido.  Last year it was P32 per kilo.  Today it is P48, a 50% increase.  This is from the same rice vendor in the Villa, Iloilo City public market. We used to buy imported Thai Jasmine rice but now we like the Philippine Malido.

Here are our figures:

  • Jan 1 to Sept 30 2007 $205.76 per month.
  • Jan 1 to Sept 30 2008 $251.87 per month
  • Jan 1 to Aug 31 2011 $330.71 per month (includes two visitor who stayed for two months)

If anything, the picture may be worse than the above figures show.  We are buying more fruits and vegetables at public markets where they are cheaper — and better.  We are also buying some meat products from stalls rather than the supermarket.  We used to think that it was safer to buy meat at the supermarket (refrigeration, fewer flies) but we have been increasingly suspicious that supermarkets use red dye to make meat look fresh when it’s not and maybe other adulterants as well.  When we go to a meat vendor in the early morning we can find freshly killed and butchered (apologies to vegetarians!) meat that looks just that way — fresh and unadulterated.

We are a normally a household of two persons.  We do buy luxuries such as imported olive oil, imported spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and some other imported cheese, New Zealand milk and butter and so forth.  Nothing here claimed to be the product of statistical competence, but hope it may be of interest to others expats or aspiring expats.

ILOILO BIG MAC INDEX:  The price of a Big Mac meal has become something of a transnational guide to the cost of living, popularized by the Economist Magazine.  The news from Iloilo City is not promising.  When we moved here in early 2007 a Big Mac meal was P98.  As of January 2009 it’s P126, a 28% increase in two years.

Comments (7) Write a comment

  1. Hey Bob,

    Thanks for sharing your site / insight with us!
    I’ve found it a good resource as i gear up for my time in PI, which i hope to one day add to http://www.downingsf.com , sharing my EXperiences and words of wisdom.

    re: this page; as a student of economics, it is safe to say that the USDollar decline made it appear that prices rose, when in fact it was both inflation of food worldwide AND the weak dollar that did in our budgets that followed. Of course, rice was hit hard throughout Asia leading up to the 2008 financial clusterf*@k, because of , well i leave it to the pros to explain ….
    http://www.economist.com/node/11049284

    cheers!
    downingsf

    Reply

  2. just like to say `thanks` for the really interesting and understandable article about air-con. We have air-con, but dont worry too much about running costs. When we build our new house in puerto galera i will have split units, purely for the security issues involved.
    I have this question for you. We have recently had a new washing machine. My partner says she can feel a mild electric shock when she is unloading the wet/dry/damp clothes in bare feet. I dont feel this, but do believe she can. If i connect a wire from the machine casing (scratching off some enamel for a good connection), to an existing close-by ground spike about 3 metres into the ground, will this solve the problem? Is it a dangerous problem, or just an annoyance? I hate the two prong Philippine system, compared to the British 3 pin earthed system.

    Reply

    • Graeme,

      Good to hear from you. I really advise against a concrete roof. The sun will heat the slab all day and then re-radiate the heat into your house 24/7. We have a friend who built a house like that with exactly the same idea of using the roof as a patio. It was pretty much an oven.

      If you do decide to have a concrete roof, I suggest you support the concrete using galvanized steel deck pans.

      Regards,

      Bob

      Reply

    • Graeme,

      I know from experience that being barefoot really makes you sensitive to the smallest voltage. Most appliances in the Philippines have a separate, usually green, grounding wire at the back. This is because most Philippine households don’t have grounded outlets. If your washer does not have one, perhaps you can securely attach a ground wire at the back of the machine and run it to your ground rod. This will also protect you in case something goes wrong inside the washer allowing the case to be really hot.

      Bob

      Reply

  3. To whom it may concern; 5/15/2011
    My name is Terrence Dobson, and I am ready to retire in the Philippianes.I have a pention of 1800.00 per month. I would like advice on where I can get the most for my money. I would like at least a two bedroom, in city or village where I would be able to shop and recieve good medical care. I would like to be close to the ocean, but it’s not a must.
    I want to thank you for all your help!
    Terrence L Dobson
    trdbs5@aol.com

    Reply

    • Terrance,

      You should be able to live anywhere in the Philippines with $1,800 per month. We spend a little less but we have our own house. Much depends on your own preferences. Have a reserve for medical expenses.

      We live in a small provincial place with cows for neighbors, but I could also enjoy living in Manila. Personally I think it’s best to be fairly close to one of the larger cities so you can have the possibility of decent medical care and shopping. We are about 20KM from Iloilo City which has about 500,000 residents. Bacolod City is also nice. CDO, Cebu and Davao are also popular with expats.

      If I was single, I’d want to live in the city. If you are healthy and vigorous you can live by yourself. If you are less so, you’ll want a companion.

      Regards,

      Reply

  4. I am reading your blog on my days off and I can’t wait to see what the latest updates in your house building. I also want to retire in P.I. but I still have 10 years to go. I’d like to buy a house and restore or build a bamboo house.

    I look forward for more blogs. Good day!

    Reply

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