Nearly three-quarters of Lebanese families struggle to secure enough food amid soaring inflation

Nearly three-quarters of Lebanese families struggle to secure enough food amid soaring inflation
The high inflation in food prices is linked to the deterioration of the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound against the US dollar. (AP)
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Updated 06 July 2021

Nearly three-quarters of Lebanese families struggle to secure enough food amid soaring inflation

Nearly three-quarters of Lebanese families struggle to secure enough food amid soaring inflation
  • Lebanon’s currency, pegged to the dollar since the 1990s, has lost more than 91 percent of its value

DUBAI:  A staggering 72 percent of local families across Lebanon will face challenges to make ends meet given the severe economic downturn coupled with skyrocketing inflation, according to Crisis Observatory.

The Crisis Observatory is an interdisciplinary research program launched by the American University of Beirut (AUB) to track the repercussions of the economic crisis in Lebanon.

The report, based on price tables from the Ministry of Economy and Trade, found that a family of five now spends more than three times the minimum wage for main meals for a month — or about LL2.1 million a month — while about three-quarters of families have a monthly income of less than LL2.4 million.

The price of sunflower oil has increased by more than 1,100 percent since the summer of 2019, that is, before the financial and economic collapse kicked off, while the price of beef increased by 627 percent and ordinary rice by 545 percent.

Eggs, meanwhile, saw their price increase by 450 percent, and the price of milk doubled by 275 percent.

In a separate report issued last week by UNICEF, children in Lebanon are bearing the brunt of one of the world’s worst economic collapses in recent times, which will likely rank in the top 10, possibly top three, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century according to the World Bank.

The report found that over 30 percent of children went to bed hungry and skipped meals in the past month, with 60 percent of households having to buy food on credit or borrow money.

The high inflation in food prices is linked to the deterioration of the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound against the US dollar, the report noted, as Lebanon imports the majority of its food needs from commodities or raw materials from abroad.

Lebanon’s currency, pegged to the dollar since the 1990s, has lost more than 91 percent of its value since mass protests erupted in October 2019.

It is currently trading at just short of LL18,000 per greenback on the black market as the central bank struggles to subsidize essential raw materials and products like wheat, fuel and medicine.

Since the beginning of 2021, bread prices have been hiked eight times because of the central bank’s cessation of subsidies on sugar and yeast.

The per-gram price of large bread bundles in bakeries rose by 23 percent, selling at LL3,500 for an 865 gram bundle.

To make matters worse, bakeries have also been hit by fuel shortages, raising fears over potential hitches in bread production in the crisis-hit country.

However, late on Sunday, a fuel sector representative told a local radio station that two tankers laden with fuel would begin unloading diesel at the beginning of the week with hospitals, bakeries and generator owners being prioritized.