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By Ruth Faulkner, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Food basics were found to be more expensive in seventeen out of eighteen state capital cities in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, in a recent survey by the Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIEESE). The food cost analysis was based on the Brazilian Cesta Básica (Staple Foods Basket).

The cost of tomatoes rose in seventeen cities, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The cost of tomatoes rose in seventeen cities, photo by Tania Rego/Agencia Brasil.

The highest increases in the basket in the month of April were registered in Campo Grande (6.05 percent), in Rio de Janeiro (4.51 percent), Natal (3.98 percent) and João Pessoa (3.9 percent). Manaus was the only Brazilian city surveyed, which saw a decrease in the cost of the basket, dropping -1.73 percent.

However, over the last twelve months – from May 2014 to April 2015 – every city saw a price rise. Aracaju saw a startling rise of 18.3 percent over the full twelve month period with Salvador not far behind with a 14.60 percent increase. Smaller increases occurred in Belo Horizonte, 1.71 percent, and Porto Alegre 2.67 percent.

Paulistanos continue to pay the highest prices in the country for basic consumption items, an average R$387.05. Vitória and Rio de Janeiro are both just behind this with R$376.46 and R$374.85 respectively. The cities that boast the lowest value baskets ​​are Aracaju with R$281.61 and João Pessoa with R$299.90.

Products such as tomatoes, French bread, beef, soybean oil and milk are those products that increased most. The cost of tomatoes rose in seventeen cities, with rates that ranged between 2.05 percent and 45.98 percent. Only Manaus saw a decrease of -4.67 percent. DIEESE believe this price rise can be attributed to the water crisis that damaged the tomato harvest.

Based on the Constitution, which states that the minimum wage should meet food expenditures, as well as housing, health, education, clothing, hygiene, transportation, leisure and welfare, DIEESE calculated that the ideal minimum wage in April 2015, would be R$3,251.61. This amounts to 4.13 times the official minimum wage of R$788.

Comparing to April last year, this is a stark increase as DIEESE then advised that the amount necessary to meet the expenses of a family was R$3,019.07. These calculations consider the value of the most expensive basket (currently in São Paulo) to feed a family of four.

In her recent address on social media for Workers’ Day Brazil’s President Rousseff counted the minimum wage as one of her successes, describing its increase as more than fourteen percent over inflation during her first term as president. However, considering DIEESE’s analysis of the ideal minimum wage, it remains to be seen whether it is possible to live on the minimum wage alone.

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