THE consumer basket for an average family of six declined by $5,64 to $584,91 as at the end of January 2015 due to the reduction of fuel prices and introduction of bond coins into the market.
This, however, remains far much higher than the poverty datum line (PDL), which the country’s statistics agency Zimstat put at $499,81 yesterday. The least paid civil servant earns $375 per month.
PDL represents the cost of a given standard of living that must be attained if a person is deemed not to be poor.
The food poverty datum line represents the minimum consumption expenditure necessary to ensure that each household member can (if all expenditures were devoted to food) consume a minimum food basket representing 2 100 calories.
An individual whose total consumption expenditure does not exceed the food poverty line is deemed to be very poor.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said the food basket decreased by $5,59 from $146,09 at the end of December 2014 to $140,50 at the end of last month.
In a statement, CCZ said the price of detergents decreased by 5c from $10,46 to $10,41 as a result of a decrease in washing powder.
Price decreases were recorded in margarine by 44c from $1,69 to $1,25, roller meal by 37c from $11,35 to $10,98 for a 20kg bag, sugar by 3c from $1,79 to $1, 76 for 2kgs, tea leaves by 17c from $1,10 to $0,93 a kg, cooking oil by 5c from $1,60 to $1,55, flour by 4c from $1,89 to $1,85, rice by 16c from $1,67 to $1,51, tomatoes by 5c from $0,65 to $0,60, onions by 5c from $0,70 to $0,49 per kg, meat by $0,29 from $4,78 to $4,49 per kg and washing powder by 3c from $1,30 to $1,27.
“As CCZ, we assume that the above price decreases are generally a strategy devised by retailers to attract more customers while keeping the competitive edge,” the consumer watchdog said.
“In addition, the decrease in prices might be as a result of reduction of fuel prices and availability of (bond) coins in all supermarkets; prices have been restructured thus, moving away from the tendency of rounding off of prices, so consumers can now buy what they want at the exact prices and get change.”
However, an increase in prices was recorded in laundry bar soap by 1c from $1,09 to $1,10 and cabbage by 18c from $0,49 to $0,67.
The prices of other basic commodities, which include bread, fresh milk, salt and bath soap, remained unchanged from the end of December 2014 figures.
CCZ said it would continue to encourage consumers to shop conscientiously and to always buy certified products.
The watchdog said consumers should check for vital information such as manufacturing and expiry dates and ingredients used in the making of products they buy.
The survey is conducted twice during the first and the last weeks of every month.
The total cost of the food basket and the price of each commodity are arrived at by averaging prices gathered from retail outlets throughout the country.
The basket is considered a fairly accurate depiction of the cost of living in urban Zimbabwe.