Nutritious food beyond reach of low-income families | Print Edition


A 400g pack of local milk powder has been increased between Rs.  830 Rs 850 to Rs 950. Picture by Indika Handuwala

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Local milk powder prices were increased this week, another blow to families in need of inexpensive options.

A 400g pack of local milk powder has been increased between Rs. Rs 850 to Rs 830 to Rs 950 approaches the price of an imported milk powder pack which is priced at Rs 1,160.

“Fresh milk has risen to Rs. 460. Keeping milk chilled is a problem due to power outages. The decision of local milk producers to raise their prices is worrying families with children,” said Sandamali, a mother of two from Kaduwela.

The price of a cup of yogurt was Rs. 35 a year ago is now Rs. 70. Those who used to have yogurt for dessert no longer choose it. Spreadable fats have replaced butter in many households.

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“Local milk producers are suffering from increased raw material and feed costs and at the same time are seeing a large drop in sales. Even if we decide to raise prices, there is very little benefit for the farmer,” said Binesh Pananwala, President of the All Island Dairy Association.

Many of the essential nutrient-dense foods are expensive. Protein is no longer affordable for low- and middle-income families.

An egg which cost Rs.18 as of September 2021 goes for Rs. 49-Rs 50. A kilo of dried sprats which was Rs. 900 last year is now just over Rs. 2,000. Even the price of the smallest fresh fish, Saalaya, is from Rs. 256 last year to Rs. 620 now. Chicken is a luxury for many families at Rs.500/kg last year but now it’s going for Rs.1,400-Rs.1,500.

Some children are now giving up milk in their cup of tea. Image by Eshan Fernando

Almost all types of rice cost 100% more. The price of dhal, green gram and chickpea has doubled. The prices of vegetables and potatoes have also risen.

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The consulting medical nutritionist Dr. Renuka Jayatissa said global food insecurity, local currency crisis and the coming winter will mean a reduction in imported dry rations and animal feed.

“This problem will exist for a few more years. In addition, the coming monsoon season will affect rice and other crops. We must prepare for difficult times when many people are forced to get by on an absolute minimum diet,” she warned.

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She said both the state and families should ensure children under the age of three are getting the nutrition needed for brain development.

“Grains, dairy products and protein play a major role alongside fruit and vegetables. Adolescents need nourishment as they enter adulthood,” said Dr. Jayastissa and urged families to avoid nutrient-dense foods in the meals of pregnant women and the elderly.

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