“I swear that was only a quid last week.” It’s the age-old student saying, and one you’ll definitely have heard before. You’ve probably yelled it yourself across the aisles of Sainsbury’s, after your favourite tube of Pringles somehow hiked itself 30p higher overnight. Shrugging, you grabbed that last roll of Paprika-flavoured magic anyway and told yourself it wasn’t that much, only another 30p. You could just forgo some less important items that week like water or electricity. It was only that night, four pints deep and twelve quid poorer, that you suddenly asked yourself the fateful question: where did all my change go?
Unfortunately, such unwelcome changes to our everyday shopping are becoming increasingly common. Many products have increased by double, or even triple the rate of inflation, and over fairly short periods of time. This is due largely to demand for ingredients that are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. One such ingredient is palm oil, which has been long condemned by green activists due to its decidedly eco-unfriendly extraction methods. In 2016, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reported that recent demand had seen the popular vegetable oil hit a 17-month high in price. Consequently, the price of butter, one of palm oil’s biggest products, has been steadily climbing upwards for the past two years. And it’s not just palm oil – meat has also been increasing in value. In July 2016 Beacon Products reported an 11% year-on-year increase per kg of beef and pork. It seems that the short-term positives of unsustainable agriculture are finally being overtaken by its long-term negative effects. Luckily, the market has responded.
Written by: Helena Young