Groceries Cheaper than 1862

A study from The Grocer magazine shows that groceries are now one-thirteenth of what they were 150 years ago. The prices of 33 items that included hot chocolate, bread, eggs, grapes, sherry and a toothbrush were measured with inflation against what they were in 1862 for the study. The basket, which now costs 93.95 pounds, would have cost 1,254.17 pounds in 1862. The figure is based on inflation of the costs then and not the actual cost of food during that time. 

Increased imports and wage increases were credited with the fall of prices. The 150th birthday of The Grocer was marked by the analysis of current grocery prices versus the prices in 1862. Today less than 10 percent of weekly expenses are contributed to groceries while Victorian shoppers spend a third of their expenses on food. Non-native fruits were the biggest change. 

Adjustments for inflation mean that the prices of groceries were 8,553 percent higher during 1862 than they are today for pineapples, 7,419 percent higher for grapes and 5,972 percent higher for a melon. In the last 150 years wages have gone up and food from other parts of the world is now more easily obtained lending to the fact that food is in all reality cheaper than it was 150 years ago. 

Butter was first shipped from New Zealand to the UK in 1882. Lamb and butter that are shipped from New Zealand are just one example of how importing food can cost less and how importing is now more easily done. Bread was shown to be 451 percent higher and butter 1,138 percent higher in 2012 than it was in 1862. 

There are those that would like to see the actual prices of the items in 1862 instead of those created with the inflation measures. The cost of items in the study did not include the basic household necessities only some food items. The cost of food today when you include eating out is from seven to twelve percent of weekly expenses for the average household. 

There are a number of forums discussing the study by The Grocer magazine and questions the choices of foods used in the study. The thirty three items used to get the numbers for inflation may or may not have been included on the grocery list one hundred and fifty years ago. Increases in wages have led to increased costs over the years and this was used to show that the prices have gone down instead of going up as would typically be assumed.