Inflation recently reached a four-decade high in the U.S., spiking around the world as well. Oil and gas prices have recently surged because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, putting further pressure on prices. Consumers are feeling pain at the pump and in the supermarket, but the effects are not felt equally worldwide. Prices of everyday items vary from country to country, and so do earnings.
To determine the countries with the most and least affordable groceries, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed data on the cost of groceries from Numbeo and average earnings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. OECD countries were ranked based on the estimated cost of a month worth of groceries as a percentage of monthly earnings. Our methodology, including the basket of foods used, is based on James Andrews’ “Weekly shop index.” The basket includes such items as milk, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetable, bread, rice, beef, and chicken.
People in lower-income countries often spend a higher percentage of their earnings on basics such as foodstuffs and gas. People in richer countries have more disposable income and may not feel the pain of inflation quite as much. Countries in the OECD generally fall into the latter category. Membership is dominated by the countries of Europe and North America, with only one member in South America and none in Africa.
The Netherlands has the most affordable groceries. Average monthly earnings are high – almost $5,000 – and the estimated monthly spending on groceries is less than $100 (ranking about middle of the 35 countries considered in terms of the price of groceries). As a result, Dutch people spend only 1.97% of monthly earnings on this basket of groceries. (Find if the Netherlands is among the 25 richest countries in the world.)
At the other end, Mexico has the least affordable groceries. Though it has the fifth cheapest basket of groceries, at about $63, it is also the country with the lowest earnings on our list at $1,352. Mexico residents, therefore, spend 4.65% of their earnings on groceries, the most of the 35 countries considered.
The United States ranks No. 5 in affordability. Though it has the ninth highest price of the basket of groceries at $121, the U.S. also has the highest monthly earnings of any country. Americans therefore spend just over 2% of their earnings on groceries, the fifth least of countries considered. (The U.S. ranks among the countries where taxes most effectively close the income gap.)
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