It looks like groceries are expensive everywhere and a little more expensive on St. John, based on the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affair’s territory-wide food basket findings released this week. The items surveyed are a little different on each island, making direct comparisons difficult.
The findings were completed this week, the last week of May. The food basket survey is designed to inform consumers which stores have the best prices on staple grocery items. According to the DLCA, the number of items compared on each island varies as a result of comparison guidelines that require items are identical in order to produce a valid survey.
On St. Croix, Honey Nut Cheerios ranged from $4.99 a box at Plaza Extra West to $6.57 a box at Pueblo East. On St. John, the same box of cereal ranged from $5.29 at Pine Peace, to up to $7.69 at Starfish Market. The survey’s St. Thomas portion does not include that item.
A loaf of whole wheat bread ranged from $4.99 to $5.05 on St. Thomas but was $5.05 at each place surveyed on St. John. The St. Croix survey does not include that item.
Eggs on St. Thomas varied from $1.99 to $3.99 per dozen but $3.75 to $3.99 per dozen on St. John. The St. Croix survey does not include eggs.
Bananas range from $.98 to $1.29 per pound on St. Thomas but reach as high as $1.49 on St. John. They are not included on the St. Croix survey.
Sugar is included on all three surveys, with a low price of $2.69 and high price of $3.29 on St. Croix; a low of $2.69 and high of $3.99 on St. Thomas; and a sharp jump on St. John, with a low of $3.99 and a high of $6.09 for a four pound bag.
On St. Croix, DLCA surveyed five stores: Pueblo Golden Rock, Pueblo La Reine, Plaza Extra East, Plaza Extra West, and Stop and Shop Supermarket. A total of 13 of the same items were compared at each location. The difference between the highest and lowest-priced basket for May was $1.51. The lowest-priced family food basket was found at Plaza Extra West location at $35.12. Plaza Extra East came in second with a food basket cost of $35.46; $.35 cents more than Plaza Extra West. Stop and Shop Supermarket came in third with a basket cost of $36.63. Pueblo La Reine came in fourth with $38.66. Closing out the survey was Pueblo Golden Rock at a cost of $39.54.
On St. Thomas, four stores were surveyed: Plaza Extra, Food Center, and Pueblo Long Bay and Pueblo Sub Base. A total of 30 of the same items were compared at each location.The difference between the highest and lowest-priced basket was $22.48. The lowest priced family food basket was found at Plaza Extra with a cost of $130.68. Pueblo’s Sub Base and Long Bay locations came in second and third respectively with a difference of $.45 cents between them. Pueblo Sub Base had a food basket cost of $147.12, while Pueblo’s Long Bay location had a food basket cost of $147.50. Food Center came in fourth with a food basket cost of $153.16.
On St. John, three stores were surveyed: Dolphin Market, Starfish Market, and Pine Peace Mini Mart. A total of 11 of the same items were compared at each location. The difference between the highest and lowest priced food basket was $8.60. The lowest priced food basket was found at Pine Peace at a cost of $56.25. Dolphin Market came in second with a food basket cost of $56.35. Coming in third was Star Fish Market with a food basket cost of $64.85.
Consumers or merchants with questions may contact the DLCA’s Consumer Affairs Division on St. Croix at 713-3522, St. Thomas at 714-3522, or St. John at 693-8036. Businesses are also reminded to submit their hurricane price list by June 1 at any DLCA location or via email at email@example.com.