Food basket. Latvian ministry lists what people need to survive

In the middle of October Latvia’s Ministry of Welfare presented the long-awaited and so-called subsistence minimum basket or relative expenditure of households on the necessary income level to live in Latvia. The new estimate reflects the desired monthly expenditures so that households are able to satisfy their basic needs. studies what is included in this new basket.
According to the ministry, the relative expenditures budget is composed of two parts – the food basket and non-food expenditures categories. The basket includes food, housing expenditures, household goods, clothes, cultural activities and other needs. The ministry previously explained society was involved in the development of the budget – people who described their family situation and reported on their expenditures, as well as descried their understanding of what an acceptable quality of life is.
Generally the desired expenditures depend on factors such as place of residence, number of people in a household and their age. So how much money does a household need to get by every month?
How much does living cost in cities and how much in the countryside?
In Riga a household that has one adult, according to researchers, can make do with EUR 423.27 a month. A household of a single elderly person can make do with EUR 416.12. A family with two adults and two children can make do with EUR 1 237.78.
In other cities, Ventspils included, a single adult needs EUR 398.17 a month, an elderly resident needs EUR 388.37 and a family of two adults and two children needs EUR 1 216.97.
In the countryside a single adult needs EUR 381.42 every month, an elderly person needs EUR 362.41 and a family of two adults and two children needs EUR 1 257.37.
Researchers stress – digits do not dictate how much people need to survive, rather how much money would be enough for a person to live without extra luxuries. Authors of the research also note that expenditures in the countryside are higher mostly because of transport costs. While having a vehicle in the countryside is a necessity, in the city it is more of an extra.
What is included in the basket?
According to the presentation available on the Ministry of Welfare website shows the contents of the food basket are compiled by dieting specialists who analyse experience of other countries, dieting recommendations and food consumption. Prices were calculated based on information published by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.
Recommended amounts of nutrients are grouped based on age and gender groups, the presentation mentions.
The food basket product group includes:
-cereals (rye bread, grain/seed bread, boiled buckwheat, wholemeal pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, white rice, barley, pearls, wholemeal wheat flour);
-fruits (apples, pears, bananas, citrus fruits, berries);
-vegetables (salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, paprika, cabbages, carrots or turnips/kohlrabi/radishes, pumpkins or courgettes/zucchini, beats, onions, dills);
-meat, fish, poultry, pork, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds;
-additives and products needed to prepare meals (sugar, honey, jam, vegetable oil, butter, dried fruits, salt, spices);
-beverages (tea, coffee, cocoa).
The ministry’s presentation also includes a seven-day diet map. Each day includes three meals and two snacks times. According to authors of the project: ‘Diet map provides recommendations, allowing for replacing one food product with another, similar one or changing meals or combining hem based on individual needs of different people.’
Here is an example of such a diet map:
-breakfast: buckwheat porridge with roasted seeds;
-snack: apple, dried fruits;
-dinner: buckwheat with minced meat sauce, beet salad;
-snack: cottage cheese pancakes with berries;
-supper: vegetable stew with beans and cereal pearls, cucumber salad, rye bread, kefir.
The map also includes a detailed list of food products necessary to make meals, their weight and concentration of proteins, fats, fibre and carbohydrates. For example, the recommended serving size for the aforementioned buckwheat meal is 250 g of boiled buckwheat, 80 g of minced pork, 20 g of onions and 60 g of milk.
The map also includes the average monthly value of the food basket for different age groups:
-2 to 6 year old children – EUR 75.22;
-7 to 14 year old children – EUR 121.65;
-15 to 18 year old teenagers – EUR 154.46;
-adults – EUR 151.80;
-elderly people – EUR 141.67.
No seven-year coat in the basket
As for the non-food portion of the basket, many may recall the Soviet-era subsistence basket. If someone doesn’t remember, here is a reminder – the subsistence basked included buying a coat once every seven years, a windbreaker – every four years, trousers – once every two years, and a jumper, jacket or pair of gloves – every two years.
One individual was eligible to have four pairs of trouser, two pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, etc.
The new basket does not include such restrictions and requirements. Non-food goods and services were calculated based on survey data. This section includes all categories of expenditures except alcohol, tobacco, gambling and foreign trips without which a person can, in theory, make do.
The non-food section value takes into account household expenditures such as rent and utilities, home repairs, furniture and household furniture, as well as personal transport maintenance; kindergarten, elementary and primary education services, tuition fees in higher education, different hobby group activities, cultural activities and sports; purchase of books, computer equipment, hobby activities, etc., as well as individual expenses. There are also positions such as purchase of mobile phone, clothes, beautification services, dentist services, purchase of medicine, jewellery, etc.
More information about the new minimum food basket plan can be found at portal.
According to researchers, numbers do not indicate how much people need to survive, rather how much would be enough to life with dignity but without extra luxuries. Ministry of Welfare Social Inclusion Policy Department representative Elīna Celmiņa explains the new index helps compare Latvian residents’ ability to afford a quality of life that is considered acceptable in society.
The study was performed by SIA Projektu un kvalitātes vadība together with SKDS sociological survey centre and BIOR institute.