FAO Paper: Premise’s data in Brazil predicts food trends 25 days in advance of official monthly releases
We’re thrilled to share that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a paper anchored by data we captured in Brazil earlier this year. Written by the FAO’s Chief Statistician Pietro Gennari and Senior Statistician Sangita Dubey, and presented at this year’s annual event for stats experts at the International Association for Official Statistics, the 32-page paper compares Premise’s food data in Brazil with the data from Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (IBGE), Brazil’s official stats-gathering agency.
Among other key takeaways, the FAO determined that Premise’s Brazil Food Staples Index (FSI) can be used to predict food trends 25 days in advance of Brazil’s official monthly releases. During June and July, Premise’s data significantly diverged from the official data – and those price distortions were likely due to the World Cup. Premise’s data revealed an increase in inflation while the government’s data didn’t reflect that until September and October (more on all of this a bit later).
Liberia has been hit hardest by the Ebola epidemic and in addition to its devastating health consequences, the disease has transformed the local economy. The crisis began in March with small-scale outbreaks in rural areas, then reached full-scale in July in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. On August 6, the Liberian government and the World Health Organization declared a state of emergency. Bodies were piled in the streets as the disease overwhelmed the country’s weak health care system, and a series of military quarantines only inflamed the situation.
Premise started tracking food prices in Monrovia on September 8, and throughout the month we observed upward pressure on prices (our Liberia indices and data are freely available at data.premise.com). The price of rice, Liberia’s primary food staple, increased 12% during September. Moreover, we saw significant price differences across the city. Prices in neighborhoods with the most exposure to Ebola were 8-12% higher on average than relatively unaffected neighborhoods. As the disease tore through the city, market sellers avoided the worst-hit areas and trade declined.
The value of Premise’s network goes far beyond tracking prices. Rather, the network is best thought of as an empowered and engaged group of people able to report on the conditions around them, be they economic, political, or social. We look to them not only to help us gather detailed and accurate data, but to tell us about what matters in their communities.
To illustrate the power of this user-driven data, consider Premise’s network in Brazil, where users have been submitting geo-tagged images of political posters and political advertisements in the run-up to the October 5 elections. At the moment, we are tracking the location and spread of political posters for all candidates and political parties across 8 major cities around the country.
From Chennai to Rio, New York to Shanghai, Coca-Cola is one of the most ubiquitous goods in the world. Whether in the old school glass bottle, a plastic liter or an aluminum can, Coke can be found on nearly every shelf in every store across the globe. What’s more, though, is that Coke also happens to be an eerily accurate bellwether for what’s happening in a country’s economy, which is why Premise is introducing the Coca-Cola Index.
India’s monsoon season, crucial for the nation’s agricultural production, got off to the weakest start in five years this season. The Ministry of Agriculture reported that during the first half of June, cumulative rainfall for India was 45% below average. Here at Premise, we’ve been keeping an eye on food prices throughout the country. As it turns out, the prices tell a much more interesting story than just drought. The prices reflect the nuances of India’s politics, as well as the shortcomings of its food storage infrastructure.
Muslims around the world recently observed the holy month of Ramadan by spending their days fasting and their nights sharing family meals. The month ended with Eid al-Fitr, a celebration traditionally marked with feasts. These holidays provide an opportunity to showcase one of the most powerful aspects of Premise’s data: the ability to drill down below national-level statistics and measure trends at the city level. City economies are heavily influenced by their specific industries, geographies, and cultures. One of our newest areas of operations, Nigeria, illustrates just how different these city-level trends can be.
We’re thrilled to announce that Premise is expanding our Africa footprint, partnering with Standard Chartered, the international bank located in 70 countries across the globe and with more than 150 years of experience in Africa alone, to launch a set of pioneering economic indicators for Nigeria and Ghana.
Around the world, all eyes are on the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar but here at Premise, excitement is centered on the data being collected by our network on the ground in Brazil. Areas near World Cup stadiums all across Brazil are experiencing much higher inflation than areas further away. Prices of consumer staples are close to 20 per cent higher on average near World Cup stadiums compared to an area 10km away. Moreover, this geographic difference in prices only appeared in June, indicating the impact of the World Cup on the local economy.
Turns out consumers in the U.S. are going to be paying a lot more for limes this year in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo celebrations – jumping from about 30 cents to 60 cents per lime, or roughly double what people ordinarily pay. This estimate doesn’t account for the fact that wholesalers are expected to be hit even harder, likely triple to quadruple what they’re used to paying for limes (retailers tend to absorb part of the price increases passed along to consumers). Here at Premise we’re calling it the Great Limeflation – let’s look at the data backing this up:
We founded Premise in 2012 to extract raw insights from a chaotic world where existing mechanisms of econometric data gathering are insufficient to meet the challenges posed by a real-time era of unprecedented economic and social volatility.