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‘Breakfast club’ is cheapest for Swiss, most expensive in Africa

Not all eggs are equal when it comes to cost and affordability.
In just four cities, a standard breakfast made up less than 1% of daily income: Geneva, Dubai, Luxembourg and Bern, Switzerland. Picture: Shutterstock

Whether scrambled, sunny-side up or as part of an omelet, eggs are a global breakfast staple. But not all eggs are equal when it comes to cost and affordability. A morning meal has become increasingly easy to acquire for residents of tech hubs such as San Francisco and across Switzerland’s finance capitals, while people in Egypt, along with much of Sub-Saharan Africa have to work much longer to pay for their first meal of the day.

The latest edition of the Bloomberg Global City Breakfast Index calculated the relative daily costs and time needed to work to earn a glass of milk, one egg, two slices of bread and a serving of fruit. Rankings are based on self-reported market prices as of December 2018 from, an online database of user-contributed city and country statistics in more than 100 locations.

In just four cities, a standard breakfast made up less than 1% of daily income: Geneva, Dubai, Luxembourg and Bern, Switzerland. This contrasts with residents of Accra and Lagos, who must shell out more than a quarter of their daily income for an identical meal.

Bloomberg picked the four food items based on widely available commodities that allow for price comparisons globally. What people across the world actually eat for their first meal of the day varies from egg-and-potato tacos in Mexico City to fried pork buns in Shanghai to cooked fava beans in Cairo.

Compared with the inaugural Breakfast Index in 2017, residents of Switzerland are better off now as incomes have increased at a greater pace than basic food prices. Of the top 20 most-affordable cities, five were in Switzerland and five were in Australia. It’s also important to note that typically as income rises, the proportion spent on food falls even if the absolute cost of food increases.

Among the major US cities in the analysis, San Francisco, Boston and Houston provided the most affordable breakfasts, while Miami and Philadelphia ranked at the bottom. Hangzhou, where Jack Ma staked his Alibaba headquarters, emerged as the costliest among the five locales from mainland China. An average citizen there had to work 30 minutes to pay for breakfast.

Breakfast cost the most at $4.45 in Hamilton, Bermuda. That’s up from $3.48 in the previous gauge. Just 2% of residents there were employed in agriculture and most food items are imported.

The 30 cities with the least affordable breakfasts were largely concentrated in South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa. Many of these regions suffer from food insecurity, or limited access to affordable and nutritious food, which can lead to additional problems such as disease and even death.

In Accra and Lagos, the two cities with the least affordable food prices, the standard breakfast would take more than 2 hours of work to purchase. The index would show an even more staggering disparity if Caracas were included. However, due to hyperinflation and the complex currency situation, that nation’s capital was excluded from this year’s list.

“They don’t think in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Johanna Mendelson Forman, a fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington. “They just think in terms of do I have enough money to buy a plate of food a day.”

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P

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Interesting, now take the argument a step further. What is the fundamental driver of the difference in affordability of basic products between nations? The very actions that are supposed to decrease “inequality”, and to close the “wealth gap”, cause the lack of purchasing power of the salary or wage. The socialist policies do equalize the wealth within the country but increase the inequality and the wealth gap between that country and free-market countries.

The people who can easily afford their breakfast all live in countries where private property rights are respected. The people who cannot afford more than one meal per day live in countries where the rule of law disappeared when private property was nationalized. The shortcut to alleviate inequality leads to increased inequality. A strong and growing economy depends on the efficiency of the rule of law. Rule of law accompanies property rights and a free market system.

Property rights is a prerequisite for food security, that is the bottom line. This popular idea in SA that the “land should be shared” is a death-wish and a recipe for poverty and hunger.

Sensei, South Africa is a different country. We should look at us as unique or else we will fall in the cracks of confusing global statistics. What they have for breakfast is switzerland cannot be compared with what is had for breakfast by the majority of South Africans, which are black. So the study does not reflect a true reflection of this country. I still think food in SA is still the cheapest in the world except for imported products… these kill us… Do you know how much is the price of OROS… why can’t HALL’S, a South African company give them the run for their money… Can’t they make two litre drink that we can all buy at have the price of OROS?… I would surely buy it for my household. For the majority of South Africans, eggs, bacon, sausages milk, baked beans, tomatoes, etc,etc is not our daily breakfast meal…but luxuries that I treat my family to from time to time. … so this study does not talk to our South Africa.

Boombang I am happy to read your comment. We should be having this honest, respectful and trusting discussion as a nation. We should not be talking to one another over burning tyres and burning books. We should not allow ignorant and malicious politicians who have only there selfish self-interest at stake, to shape the discourse.

We are past the crossroads already. But we can still turn around. This is a matter of life and death for millions of us. Maize meal, milk, sugar, chicken and baked beans will not only become unaffordable, but it will also be unavailable if the government continues on this course. Our warnings fall on deaf ears. That is the scary part.

Hello Boombang: I tried hard but do not understand what you are saying.

I would venture that the study is severely handicapped by the assumed average earnings they use to work out how many minutes are needed. There is zero chance that any normal person would describe the most affordable cities as Dubai, Geneva, Bern and Luxembourg! I have been to all those except Bern and they are eye-wateringly expensive compared to other large EU cities.

For these studies to make sense they should compare using starting salary of comparable jobs such as a Grade 1 teacher.

Switzerland has some of the highest agricultural subsidies in the world, with farmers receiving around 50% of income from the state. So thumbsuck each Swiss pays for his cheap brekkie twice over. Meanwhile in SA, 17million folks on social grants almost receive two eggs, toast, a tomato and a glass of milk for free each day from the state.

End of comments.





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