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The Jambon-Beurre Index: Economy in a Sandwich

The Jambon-Beurre Index: Economy in a Sandwich

Every year 1,243 billions of sandwiches are eaten in France, and this is just one of the products used to show how a country’s taste (and economics) evolves.

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Half a baguette cut in two, butter, a few slices of ham: you have yourself a classic French sandwich. It’s so popular that according to stats every year 1,243 billions of sandwiches are consumed in France – hence the jambon-beurre index and the economic rise of the product. As for the Big Mac, the king of sandwiches at Mac Donald's, it has been, according to the Economist, the symbol of economic growth or stagnation all over the world for the past thirty years. We can also name other famous sandwiches such as the club sandwich, elegant in its simple tramezzino sandwich shape, stuffed as you like.

The 2014 jambon-beurre index, compared to the one in 2013, shows how a country’s taste evolves: the French are starting to lose interest in the baguette because of new things they want to try. Although the jambon-beurre still holds 58% of the French sandwich market, its consumption fell by 5,39 percent in just a year, against the rise of the quick supermarket sandwich and its 7 billions of euros per year. If we don’t count independent bakers, the price of the lovely baguette has gone up increasingly since 2010, and prices vary from 2,71 to 3,29 Euros in Paris.

The index is based on the price of the sandwich, especially when it comes to two buns stuffed with a burger. The Big Mac is the symbol of globalization and also the object of an informal index monitored by the Economist since 1986. Each year the famous magazine publishes the prices of the sandwich based on the economic theory PPP, (purchasing-power parity). The index has also evolved throughout the years and now determines how long someone needs to work in order to afford a Big Mac, creating a real “burgeromics". Brazil (according to the 2014 index) is where a Big Mac costs more in proportion to one’s salary, whereas India and Hong Kong make for a good deal.

Among these famous sandwiches, there is a new born index: the Club Sandwich index that compares the price of the sandwich in different locations (geographical and culinary) of the world - inside famous hotel kitchens. The apartment-building sandwich (name given for its many layers, similar to an apartment building) is very dear to the Brits, and was invented at the end of the 19th century. The classic one consists in a double sandwich loaf cut in triangles and filled with chicken and bacon, tomatoes, salad, mayo, toasted and served. Because of its worldwide success, tried to measure its price to understand how tourists relate to its quality and consumption: Geneva is the most expensive city at a cost that can go well above 23 euros, followed by Paris, Helsinki and Stockholm, Oslo and London. The cheapest city remains New Delhi, the only place where a clubhouse sandwich costs barely over 6 euros.

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