Saturday, June 12, 2010

The cost of cruising...

One of the problems with modern society is the cost of things seldom reflect their actual value... In fact, to say things have become somewhat nuts is something of an understatement!

Down here in the Caribbean very little is produced food-wise, so pretty much anything you find to provision comes from some faraway place. As a result the price really has nothing to do with the cost of the food but everything to do with the cost of getting that food to you and various middlemen taking a profit in the process.

Take the cherries in the picture... Coming all the way from Washington state (and they certainly show the wear and tear) the price is $6.99 a pound which in this case translates to roughly over sixteen cents a cherry! I guess I should feel better as in Japan they often cost as much as a dollar a cherry, so it could be a lot worse. Then again, I am way too cheap to spend that kind of money on low quality cherries!

The other downside is that being at the end of the line of the food train we get the lower quality, picked over and damaged goods at premium prices... Bummer!

Sadly, what few locals foods there are, tend to reflect the price established by the imported products  as opposed to what they actually cost to produce... Which means if someone here was growing cherries he'd price them to match or exceed the imported Washington state cherries which creates an even more distorted market.

Cherries are something that most of us can do without so it is easy to deal with the high prices by simply not buying them but what do you do about the items you really need and staples? How to you keep the food budget in check?

More on that soon...

1 comment:

Jack of all Trades said...

I doubt that the locally-grown stuff costs significantly than the imported analog (i.e. more than the quality benefit it gets from being fresher), but it would not surprise me at all that the prices are equal.

That is actually evidence of an efficient market!

If demand for a product exceeds the supply from the cheap local producer, the market will require imports, which set the new clearing price. At that point, the local supplier should raise his prices to match the import. If the market doesn't like the newly higher prices, demand will fall, and so will prices, at which point the importer may or may not exit the market.

The price will eventually settle at a new equilibrium. Sounds to me like the Caribbean folk just really like their cherries!