photo: Esther Henry

THE BOTTOM – “After the hurricane the grocery prices continue to go up. I am in shock”, says grocery shopper Xiomara Coffie on Saba. In October, November and December 2017 (Q4), many goods and services went up in price, especially food products. Fresh fruit is currently almost 25 percent more expensive than one year previously; cheese has risen by over 14 percent, the Central Statistics Bureau Netherlands (CBS) reports.

Xiomara Coffie, stepping out of the grocery store on Saba

Business Manager of MyStore Supermarket, Kelly Johnson expresses: “After hurricane Irma, transportation routes has changed due to hurricane damages from the other islands that were severely damaged resulting in a slower travel. It costs us more since it’s peak season with the surcharge fees from shipping companies. We order the produce at least three to four weeks prior to coming on Saba.”

However, potato and egg prices in particular became much more expensive compared to one year previously according to CBS. In addition, prices of building materials have increased, as well as prices in the sector hotels and restaurants.

“Sometimes it goes up then drops. The prices are all dependent on the transportation from St. Maarten. Shopkeepers have it hard as well”, says a grocery customer at MyStore Supermarket. “The prices still rise! Everything is expensive!” complains another.

Grocery shopping on St. Maarten is approximately per month is $300, while on Saba $270 weekly. The high cost of living remains an issue for a lot of Sabans.

Local government price check of non-controlled items was done on January 11, where one store has a cartoon of large eggs pricing for $4.95 and medium for $3.75. Tomatoes for example, are currently priced at one supermarket for $5.95 per kilo while onion is at $3.00 per kilo.

On Saba, average prices of goods and services in 2017 were almost at the same level as in 2016, despite price increases in Q4.

As of Q4 2016, prices on Saba declined year-on-year until hurricane Irma passed in September 2017. Credit-CBS