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'We Just Eat More': Kiev Explains Why Half Ukrainians' Budget Goes on Food

© AP Photo / Emilio MorenattiA seller sleeps inside his fish shop as he waits for customers at a market in central Kiev, Ukraine.
A seller sleeps inside his fish shop as he waits for customers at a market in central Kiev, Ukraine. - Sputnik International
A high proportion of income spent on food is most often taken to be a sign of poverty, but according to Ukrainian Minister of Social Policy Andrei Reva, the reason lies elsewhere.

Spending on food as a share of total income is a sign of a country's development, and in some developed nations such as the UK and Switzerland, people spend less than ten percent of their money on food.

In Ukraine, the proportion has reached 50 percent, as incomes have plummeted amid economic hardship. Double-digit inflation and galloping prices have sent average wages down from $400 per month in 2013 to less than $200 in 2016.

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However, according to Ukrainian Minister of Social Policy Andrei Reva, the reason has less to do with economics and more to do with culture. Ukrainians simply eat more than other countries, he told the TV channel 112 Ukraine.

"When we say that the Germans spend 14 percent and we spend 50 percent, there is a system of priorities here," Reva said, brushing off the Germans' well-known passion for meat dishes.

"All his life, my father considered it a priority to eat well. He believed that there are some things you can refuse, but eating well and nutritiously is very important. Our people have this kind of historical tradition. Holodomors and wars forced them to see the issue of nutrition differently than in other countries," Reva explained.

Reva said that the price of food in Ukraine and Germany are "about the same," adding that German people "eat less not because they don't have the opportunity, but because that is their culture. That is why they spend less than we do."

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On Thursday, Yuriy Grymchak, a deputy minister in charge of the southeast Ukraine region where Kiev is carrying out a military operation against pro-independence supporters, said that a blockade of Donbass by a group of far-right activists has caused the country's economic growth to slow by 1.5 percent.

The blockade of Donbass began in January, when a group of former participants of Ukraine's military operation in the southeast blocked traffic on several segments of freight rail lines running from Donbass. In March, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko backed the blockade and enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to sever all transport connection with the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

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