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Thursday 19 October 2017

We're spending far less on food than we did 70 years ago

A pound of butter used to cost 3pc of your weekly wage

Stock Image: Getty Images/Caiaimage
Stock Image: Getty Images/Caiaimage
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

New statistics from the CSO show a sharp fall in the proportion of consumers income spent on food over the past 77 years.

The CSO examined the purchasing power of weekly earnings over the period 1938 to 2015 by comparing the price of a loaf of bread, a pound of butter and a pound of sirloin beef in selected years to nominal average weekly earnings of industrial workers in the industry sector in the same year.

A loaf of bread cost 5.5d (5 and 1/2 pence) in 1938 when the average industrial wage was £2 6s 4d (2 pounds, 6 shillings and 4 pence). Thus, a loaf of bread accounted for 1pc of the average weekly industrial wage.

In 1968, average weekly industrial earnings were £14 2s 5d and a loaf cost 1s 10.5d, 0.7pc of the weekly wage.

By 2000 average weekly industrial earnings were £364.80 and a loaf of bread cost 78 pence, accounting for 0.2pc of the weekly wage.

Meanwhile in 1938 a pound of butter cost 1s 5.2d and a pound of sirloin beef cost 1s 0.7d, these prices equate to 3.1pc and 2.3pc of the average weekly industrial wage.

By 1955 butter and sirloin were the same price, accounting for 3pc of the average weekly wage. Since then the price of both products, as a proportion of the average industrial wage, has decreased significantly. In 2015 a pound of sirloin accounted for 1.1pc of the average weekly wage.

The relative price of butter fell at a greater rate and now accounts for 0.4pc of the average industrial wage.

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