By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to a January 2014 survey conducted by the leading British weekly, The Economist, Brazil has the fifth most expensive Big Mac in the world. Selling at US$5.25 (or R$12.60), one of the McDonald’s chain’s most popular burgers is nearly fifteen percent percent more expensive than its equivalent in the U.S., which sells for US$4.62.

Big Mac, photo courtesy of
The Big Mac, with its characteristic second layer of bread, lettuce, cheese, special sauce, onion, pickles and beef patties, photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons License.

The most expensive Big Mac in the world can be found in Norway, retailing at US$7.90. Venezuela has the second highest, at US$7.15, followed by Switzerland and Sweden. Big Mac lovers would have a feast in India, home of the cheapest burger, which sells at US$1.54.

The Big Mac Index was created in 1986 by The Economist, as a way of comparing the purchasing power between two currencies. The index is based on the economic theory of purchasing power parity (PPP), which, it is the idea that “in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalize the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries.” The index measures the PPP in over one hundred countries.

The Big Mac Index even adjusts for income, displaying a map of the countries where the sandwich is overvalued and undervalued, and to what percentage. Brazil is therefore not only home to the world’s fifth most expensive Big Mac, but more importantly, it also has the fifth most overvalued burger.

The map shows the Big Mac to be overvalued by 13.5 percent in Brazil. Meanwhile, the U.S., despite having a more expensive Big Mac than many other countries, is overvalued by 0.0 percent. On the other end of the spectrum is India, where the sandwich is undervalued by 66.8 percent.

Many Brazilians seem to be in agreement that the Big Mac is far overpriced. Carioca Pedro Marinho finds that “it’s not worth it – you can buy a much cheaper burger elsewhere, that tastes just as good. I don’t know why the price is so high for a Big Mac here. I find it really absurd, especially when comparing [the price] to other countries.”

Read more (in Portuguese).

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  1. The price of the Big Mac in India is mainly due, I would think, to the fact that Hindi peoples revere cows.

  2. There’s a place called “Bob’s Burgers” in Rio that is every bit as good as McDonalds on a tit-for-tat basis. The Big Mac lost its soul somewhere in the ’70s. I’m not a McDonalds basher by design, I just believe that for the money, especially in Brazil, one can do far better. FAR better. What you taste there is a good summary of modern day America in many facets: Over priced, over processed, bland, mass marketed product that in the end, isn’t even good for you.

  3. @MJ – The price of an equivalent burger at Bob’s is just as high as that at McDonalds and fairly bland as well. The point of the piece is not about the value of a Big Mac, rather about how it is an overvalued item comparatively. Everyone residing in this country can attest to the higher prices for food, clothing, and basic household items when you compare it to other countries. When you start talking about luxury items like electronics, cars, etc the numbers are even more startling. The facts of the matter are simple and clear: Brasilieros and others who reside here pay higher prices for most everything despite the relatively low average income of most households. Inflations steadily goes up, the banks extend more and more credit, and the wages of most stay stagnant. When it is more cost effective to fly to the US to buy things than it is to buy them on your own block something is terribly wrong with the structure of the economy.


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