Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Introduction to Cesta Básica

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Did you know that some families in Brazil receive a combination of basic products that are meant to be spent within a month? In this article you will learn all about Brazil's Cesta Básica

Changes in the employment laws

In the Decree – Law n. 399, proclaimed in April, the 30th of 1938, Brazil's former president determined that there would be a minimum salary as a right for every Brazilian adult worker, without distinction of sex .

This salary would be calculated in order to provide the worker's basic needs, such as nourishment, housing, clothing, hygiene and transportation, depending on the region where the worker lives and on the period of time stipulated.

Brazil's president at that time was Getúlio Vargas, who created and enlarged the labor rights, such as:

  • The work with employment contract
  • The eight-hour workshift
  • The right to have paid vacation every year
  • The weekly rest
  • The right to social welfare
  • The regulation of women's and minor's work.

Cesta Básica

Vargas also determined in the decree of the minimum salary that a group of basic products should be provided to all Brazilian workers. These products should be enough for a family to use them during a month.

The kit containing them was called Ração Essencial Mínima (which would be the minimum essential ration) or Cesta Básica Nacional (which is not exactly a basket, but gives the idea of products put together in a container or a box). These products vary according to the three big areas of Brazil: the Southeast region, the South/Mid-West region and the North/Northeast region.

Nowadays, if there is no collective convention in the category of workers determining the supply, the cestas básicas are an optional benefit.

They are part of a program named PAT (Programa de Alimentação do Trabalhador or worker's nourishment program), whose aim is to share the responsibilities between the enterprises and the government. The enterprise which grant the benefit of the cesta básica must be registered at PAT.

Also, the consumption of food in Brazil isn't standardized anymore. For instance, not every family in Brazil likes to have jelly for desert, some of them prefer a dish made with guava. Considering this, some enterprises started to provide the benefit of the cesta básica in the form of a credit card, giving the money instead of the products.

Theoretically, there are 13 essential goods that should be in all of the cestas básicas:

  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Potato
  • Vegetables (tomato)
  • Bread
  • Coffee
  • Fruits (banana)
  • Sugar
  • Oil
  • Butter.

These products are the basis for the price calculations of DIEESE (Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos Socioeconômicos or Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Social-Economic Studies).

However, the cestas básicas don't contain perishable goods. In fact, in the cardboard box there are only products like rice, beans, sugar, salt, coffee, pasta, oil, flour and sardine, in packages or tins. It doesn't contain some of the essential 13 products like meat, fruits and vegetables.

Other products can also be found in some cestas básicas: tomato sauce, sausage, cookies etc. The decree also determines the quantities of each good that will be distributed, besides the brands of the products.

The value of the cestas básicas depends on the amount of products and their brands – well-known brands are more expensive than brands that are more unfamiliar to the public.

Some nutritionists consider that the ideal cesta básica (the one with the 13 products) can't provide all vitamins and minerals that are necessary to a human's body, specially because it lacks the proper amounts of fruits and vegetables. There are some discussions about its composition from time to time.

Fome Zero

The Brazilian government created a strategy to guarantee the right to a proper nourishment to the people who have difficult access to food. Fome Zero has four main axes:

  1. Access to nourishment
  2. Strengthening of family farming
  3. Income generation
  4. Social articulation, mobilization and control.

They contain programs and actions that transfer income and food, provide access to information and formal education (axis 1), develop actions that promote the income generation in the countryside and increase the amount of food that is produced for consumption (axis 2), promote the joint economy and develops actions to qualify low income population in order to help their insertion in the labor market (axis 3) and encourage society to partner with the federal government to perform campaigns against hunger (axis 4).