Brazilian Swaps Food For Snacks To Save Money

The rise in food prices is leading Brazilians to exchange meals for snacks away from home. According to a survey by consultancy Kantar, more than half of respondents said that the pandemic has greatly changed their eating habits on the street.

What happened? The study points out that meals away from home fell by 25% in the comparison between the first quarter of 2022 and the same period in 2020. In addition, the consumption of snacks increased (3.9%) and the consumption of complete meals fell (- 3.3%).

The main reason for this is the high prices of food outside the home. While Brazilians spend an average of BRL 10.43 to eat a sandwich or a snack, to have a complete meal at lunchtime it is necessary to pay an average amount of BRL 43.94.

The Kantar study points out that snacks outside the home became 11% more expensive. Meals had a 21% readjustment. Brazilians have opted for pastries, hamburgers, snacks and hot dogs as they cost on average a quarter of the price of a plate of food in a restaurant.

What are the problems with this exchange? For Rodrigo Kiko Afonso, executive director of the Citizenship Action Against Hunger, Misery and For Life, exchanging a full meal for a snack represents mild food insecurity, as people do not eat properly. “You can’t trade a meal for a pie,” he says.

In Brazil, at least 60 million people are in a situation of mild food insecurity, a scenario in which there is a decline in the quality of food consumed and concerns about whether there will be food on the table in the future.

Coxinha while going to treat cancer: This is the case of the sisters Jolivania, 38 years old, and Jolene Souza, 40 years old. Unemployed, they have to eat snacks to save money when they leave home. A resident of the extreme south of São Paulo, Jolivania says that she undergoes treatment at the Bruno Covas Oncological Center, in Vila Santa Catarina, and is accompanied by her sister.

After spending the morning at the hospital, they take two buses to get home to Jardim Gaivota. Between one ride and another, they stop to eat a hot dog or a pastry. If money is shorter in the day, it can be a croissant or a coxinha.

Driver Alessandro Andrade says he eats pastel or sandwich for lunch to save time and money

Image: Vinicius de Oliveira/Collaboration for UOL

Pastel to save and save time: Driver Alessandro Andrade, 40, says he prefers to eat snacks at lunchtime because it’s faster. For a year and a half, he has been eating pastries, hamburgers or hot dogs at lunchtime. In addition to saving money, he says he has very little time to make the meal.

Inflation and pandemic: Kantar survey data shows that 62% of Brazilians are still concerned about the continuation of the covid-19 pandemic and the impact on their professional and financial lives. In addition, high inflation has eroded purchasing power.

Consumers are more concerned and plan better when spending money — nearly 46% are buying more items on sale to try to save money.

Do traders lose too? Inflation also weighs heavily on snack stand owners, who try to save where they can to keep the price down.

Solange - Vinicius de Oliveira/Collaboration for UOL - Vinicius de Oliveira/Collaboration for UOL

Solange Maria, owner of the street stall Bem Lanches, in the south of São Paulo

Image: Vinicius de Oliveira/Collaboration for UOL

Solange Maria, 32, owner of the Bem Lanches stall, located in front of the SP Market mall, says she has avoided passing on the cost of food to customers.

Most of its customers are men, who are looking for robust sandwiches — to keep them going all day — and that are practical. Its flagship is the x-calabresa, which takes French bread, sausage, cheese and vinaigrette, for R$ 8. “Brazilians have always eaten snacks to save money, but now it’s difficult for everyone,” he says.

How much did the food go up? According to the IPCA (Broad Consumer Price Index), food and beverages were 13.93% more expensive in the last 12 months, especially vegetables (65.71%), vegetables (29.28%), fruits (28.90%), milk and dairy products (25.40%).

The values ​​are above the official inflation measured in the same period, which was 11.89% according to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics).

What happens from now on? According to Rodrigo Kiko Afonso, from Ação da Cidadania, the concern is that people with mild food insecurity go to a worse stage, of moderate or severe food insecurity. There are already 65 million Brazilians in this situation.

  • Mild food insecurity: when the quality of the food consumed drops and there is fear of lack of food in the future;
  • Moderate food insecurity: when there is a restriction in the amount of food and the family skips one of the meals;
  • Severe food insecurity: when not to eat

More than 60% of the Brazilian population (125 million Brazilians) is in some degree of food insecurity. For this reason, Ação da Cidadania has invested in a new campaign to help people in the most serious situation: 33 million people (or 15% of the population) who currently have nothing to eat.

What can be done? The action “Pact for the 15% with Hunger” should unite civil society entities, companies, media groups, communication agencies, artists and influencers to collect donations and register new volunteers for the fight against food insecurity.

“There are 14 million new people without access to food in just over a year. It is unacceptable”, declares Rodrigo Kiko Afonso. Anyone who wants to help can donate directly to NGOs and organizations that are part of the social action.