Food Observatory: Issue No.10, October - December 2012

Situation Report
Originally published
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 Some 34.7% of vulnerable¹ households surveyed this quarter stated they were exposed to some form of financial shock in 2012; one third of those perceived food price increases to be the main cause. (Page 8)

 Despite household perceptions, the monthly price burden, which indicates price changes in the food basket2, saw a decrease of 1.3% in Quarter 4 (Q4) of 2012, standing at L.E. 483.9 compared to L.E. 490.2 in Q3. Prices eased due to seasonality, partly explains the slight reduction in the proportion of households reporting insufficient income to meet their monthly needs (83.1% in Q4 against 86% in Q3 of 2012). (Page 4)

 Largely static income levels reported by 94.8% of vulnerable households surveyed contributed to greater proportion of their income (63.3%) going to food against the national average (40.6%). (Pages 7 - 8)

 The main coping strategies adopted by households this quarter included: consuming cheaper food items (by 30.7% of strategies), borrowing food or money (26.2%), buying on credit (17.9%), reducing food intake (13.7%) and receiving assistance from their community (4.5%). This indicates vulnerable households are adopting more severe coping mechanisms where incomes do not suffice. (Page 9)

 Some 21.2% of vulnerable households surveyed are not holders of ration cards for subsidized food. Nearly all ration-card owning households surveyed used their ration cards, however, lack of availability of some items at grocery stores hindered 69.7% of households from purchasing their full allocations. Subsidized tea and macaroni were cited as the most dispensable of subsidized commodities. (Page 10)

 Consumption patterns of vulnerable households show daily consumption of cereals and carbohydrates; of these items, subsidized bread was consumed the most frequently (6.5 days a week) by the majority (89.8%) of households. Oil and butter were also consumed daily, and legumes 6.2 days a week. On average, vegetables and fruit are only consumed 3.7 and 1.6 days a week respectively, given high and fluctuating prices. Meat and fish are rarely consumed, and eggs form the main source of animal protein (2.6 days a week). (Page 10)

 Female headed households constituted 20.9 of vulnerable households surveyed, consequently female household heads’ labor force participation rate amounts to 17.1%. (Page 7)

 Between September 2012 and January 2013, the Egyptian pound (L.E.) continued to weaken significantly losing 8% of its value against the USD from L.E. 6.08 to L.E. 6.7 respectively, subsequently driving up the price in local markets of some food items such as wheat and sugar despite their decrease in global markets3.

 Net reserves fell by USD 1.4 billion (bn) in January 2013 to USD 13.6 bn from USD 15 bn in December 2012, and by some USD 21 bn since 2011. Reserve levels are currently sufficient to cover less than three months of imports. The Central Bank reported that in the last two years, it availed USD 36 bn of special reserves funds largely to cover a rising import bill, particularly of petroleum (USD 9 bn) and wheat (USD 5 bn)4. (Page 6)