By: Zoe Noakes   |   Posted: October 13, 2022

This eye-opening photo essay shows the exorbitant price increases at grocery stores and markets over the last 12 months, pushing vulnerable families toward hunger, malnutrition and even starvation.

8 Photos Show Skyrocketing Grocery Prices Around the World

This eye-opening photo essay shows the exorbitant price increases at grocery stores and markets over the last 12 months, pushing vulnerable families toward hunger, malnutrition and even starvation.

Written by Zoe Noakes
Photos and field reporting by Odessa B, Tigist Gizachew, Kevin Ouma, Duples Plymouth, J. Sangma, Carol Mwinemewsigwa, Gabriella Samaty and Jehojakim Sangare
Jinda is standing at the market

It’s becoming a familiar experience: wincing at the grocery store checkout when the total displays. The collision of war, inflation, extreme weather and the pandemic has created the largest food crisis since World War II — and we’re all feeling the impact.

As budgets are forced to tighten, some families are facing desperate situations. These eye-opening photos show the exorbitant price increases at grocery stores and markets over the last 12 months, pushing vulnerable families towards hunger, malnutrition and even starvation.

1. 1 kg Powdered Milk, Sri Lanka

boxes of powdered milk in Sri Lanka

Previous price: LKR 945 (USD $2.61)
Current price: LKR 2,895 (USD $8)
Cost increase: 206%
Daily income of family living in poverty: LKR 1,000-1,500 (USD $2.77-$4.15)

Powdered milk is often the choice for families who live in poverty, as most don’t have a refrigerator to keep fresh milk cool. However, a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) box of the product now costs significantly more than their daily income.

“In Sri Lanka, since the beginning of 2022, every month has been getting more difficult for people,” explains Compassion Sri Lanka photojournalist Odessa B. “Due to the economic crisis, food inflation rates have gone up by 80% [overall].”

“Every month we hear news of prices being increased,” says Odessa. “For a middle-class family with a steady monthly income, managing this crisis has been difficult. You can only imagine what it is like for a family living in poverty who don't have a steady income and were already struggling before inflation.”

2. 250g Spaghetti, Burkina Faso

spaghetti in Burkina Faso

Previous price: 175 XOF (USD $0.26)
Current price: 350 XOF (USD $0.53)
Cost increase: 100%
Daily income of family living in poverty: less than 500 XOF (USD $0.76)

Drought is worsening the situation in Burkina Faso, driving up the cost of locally grown food. “People are worried about inflation because life was already difficult due to the poor harvest last year,” says Compassion Burkina Faso photojournalist Jehojakim Sangare. “It didn't rain enough, and the security issue in many regions of the country is amplifying the economic crisis. Everything is increasing, even the price of food that is grown in our country.”

“For families living in poverty, inflation is putting them further below the poverty line as children miss school and adequate health care for their development because their parents can’t afford it.”

3. 250g Beans, Kenya

beans in Kenya

Previous price: 81 KES (USD $0.68)
Current price: 143 KES (USD $1.20)
Cost increase: 76%
Daily income of family living in poverty: 143 KES (USD $1.20)

In Kenya, Compassion Kenya photojournalist Kevin Ouma says conversation in the community revolves around the rising cost of food. “Many families have had their household budgets stretched, straining resources that would usually go to other expenses,” he says.

“Families living in poverty have been worst hit, having to resort to one meal a day.”

4. 1 kg Potatoes, Bangladesh

potatoes in Bangladesh

Previous price: 20 BDT (USD $0.21)
Current price: 40 BDT (USD $0.42)
Cost increase: 100%
Daily income of family living in poverty: 312 BDT (USD $3.30)

The pandemic hit Bangladesh hard, with quarantine restrictions leaving many day laborers out of work. And like in Burkina Faso, extreme weather has worsened the situation. “The pandemic wasn’t enough to take down the resilient people of Bangladesh, but once again the northeast region was hit by a flash flood of a severity not seen in decades,” says Compassion Bangladesh photojournalist J. Sangma.

“Today, the country is exhausted from the constant strain caused by nature and yet, its people are hopeful and still aspire for a better developed nation.”

5. Bread Rolls, Haiti

bread in Haiti

Previous price: 50 Gourdes (USD $0.42)
Current price: 200 Gourdes (USD $1.71)
Cost increase: 300%
Daily income of family living in poverty: 100 Gourdes (USD $0.85)

Hunger levels were already rising in Haiti, with political instability, inflation and recurrent natural disasters wreaking havoc. Soaring inflation is making basic food items unaffordable.

“Bread is the most popular food throughout Haiti. Haitians eat bread in the morning for breakfast,” says Duples Plymouth, Compassion Haiti photojournalist contractor. “Now, it’s been reduced in size because flour and other ingredients are more expensive due to the inflation.”

Making matters worse, rice — another Haitian staple — has increased in cost by 306 percent.

6. 1 kg Maize Flour, Uganda

maize flour in Uganda

Previous price: UGX 1,800 (USD $0.46)
Current price: UGX 4,500 (USD $1.16)
Cost increase: 150%
Daily income of family living in poverty: UGX 2,142 (USD $0.55)

Maize flour is the key ingredient in posho, a dish made by mixing the flour with hot water. It’s one of the cheapest — albeit least desirable — meals in Uganda. “When resources are low, many Ugandans have no choice but to resort to eating posho,” says Compassion Uganda photojournalist Carol Mwinemewsigwa. “Yet with the increase in fuel prices and inflation, maize flour is more difficult to afford.”

7. 1 kg Tomatoes, Ethiopia

tomatoes in Ethiopia

Previous price: ETB 10-12 (USD $0.19-$0.22)
Current price: ETB 21 (USD $0.40)
Cost increase: 75-110%
Daily income of a family living in poverty: ETB 100-150 (USD $1.90-2.86)

In Ethiopia, inflation hasn’t only affected food. “House rent, school fees, transportation — basically everything has gone up, while the income of the people has stayed the same,” explains Compassion Ethiopia photojournalist Tigist Gizachew. “The number of items people used to buy with a certain amount of money is now cut by more than half. People who depend on daily jobs that pay minimum wage are highly affected since their daily income is becoming just paper.”

8. Corn, Togo

corn in Togo

Previous price: 400 CFA (USD $0.62)
Current price: 950 CFA (USD $1.47)
Cost increase: 137.5%
Daily income of family living in poverty: 500-1,000 CFA (USD 0.77)

Corn was once an affordable staple in the Togolese diet. “But, with the inflation, corn has become rich people's food,” says Compassion Togo photojournalist Gabriella Samaty. “Families with a limited budget can hardly afford corn for their daily meals like they could before. People are frustrated with the current state of affairs.”

The unprecedented global food crisis is impacting all of us, but for those who were already struggling to put food on the table, the situation is dire.

Over the past two years of the pandemic, local church partners have been providing food support to hungry families; but now the crisis is skyrocketing the number who need help.

Compassion partners with 8,300 local churches all over the globe. The local church is positioned to quickly and effectively respond to the global food crisis because it is a trusted presence in vulnerable communities.

But those churches need all of us to help. Your donation will do more than feed a hungry child. It will empower parents to provide. It will stabilize vulnerable families. It will provide sustainable solutions that will impact communities for years to come.