The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures, which measures the changes in the prices of a basket of goods and services commonly consumed by households in Australia, showing a significant ongoing increase in food prices.

Rising CPI (Consumer Price Index) means that the cost of living is increasing for Australian households in 2023. When the CPI goes up, it indicates that the prices of goods and services that people typically buy have increased over a specific period.

The CPI figures indicate that the cost of living for households in Australia has continued to rise in the first quarter of 2023. In the first few months of 2023, the cost of living went up by 0.8 per cent. This is due to common essentials such as fuel and housing, becoming more expensive.

Prior to March 2023, the cost of living went up by 3.5 per cent, which is higher than the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target range of 2-3 per cent.

If the cost of necessities like food, housing, and healthcare increases, households may have to spend more money on these items, leaving them with less disposable income to spend on other things. Inflation can also lead to higher interest rates, which can make it more expensive for households to borrow money for things like mortgages or personal loans.

According to the Foodbank Hunger Report 2022, the rising cost of living is the main cause of food insecurity in Australia – this can be worse for already low-income households.

An anonymous interviewee for Foodbank says “in the last few years, I’ve had to move four times because my landlords have sold their properties (to benefit from the increase in property prices). Moving has been expensive and each time my rent has increased. During this, I’ve had difficulty finding spare money for food”.

Another interesting finding is the relationship between food insecurity and employment. The report highlights that 35 per cent of people experiencing food insecurity in Australia are employed, indicating that having a job does not always guarantee food security. This suggests that broader social and economic factors, such as low wages and underemployment, may be contributing to food insecurity in Australia.

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The Household Expenditure Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that low-income households spend a higher proportion of their income on food than high-income households. The survey also found that lower-income households are more likely to report experiencing food stress, which means they are unable to afford the food they need.

According to CPI data, the ABS reveals that Australians spent an extra 9.4 per cent more for groceries (excluding non-alcoholic drinks) in the 12 months between November 2021 and November 2022, due to the overall spike in product prices.

The 2023-2024 budget has seen an increase in the allocation of funds to delivering cost-of-living relief, as well as sustainable income support for Centrelink recipients and will be reviewed again in 2024.

With reporting from Isabel Milligan, Michael Algeri, Scarlett Lewis, and Erin Morley.