Where is the country with the most expensive of nuttella

I spent my first days in Venezuela taking photographs of food. I needed to reassure family and friends. They were surprised – as was I – to see shelves brimming with vegetables, cereal and bread.

There is food in Caracas, the capital. But as inflation pushes prices higher and higher, the food is inaccessible for the majority of people.

The fall of the price of oil, which is the main source of income for the Venezuelan economy, has crushed the country’s ability to import products.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that inflation will hit 700% by the end of the year. The government last published figures for inflation in December 2015, putting it at 180%. It regards the shortages as being caused by an “economic war” waged by the private sector and foreign countries.

Luxury shops have prices much higher than those in Europe or the US.

One delicatessen supermarket stocks only imported goods from Italy, Spain and the US. A jar of the Italian chocolate spread Nutella can reach 15,000 bolivares – $15 (£11) if you sell it on the black market. A 750g jar in a UK supermarket costs about £3.50.

More saliently, it is half the Venezuelan monthly minimum wage.

This is not the fault of the chocolate spread manufacturers but a symptom of a seriously struggling economy.

If you are unable to pay, you will have to queue for hours to get basic goods.

“I haven’t seen sugar in a while,” says Luiz. Fridays are his day for shopping – this is decided by the number on his ID card, in one of the ways the government has tried to deal with the food shortages.

Luiz lives in Petar, one of the poorest areas of Caracas. Every Friday he goes to a supermarket in Santa Fe, a middle class area.

He gets up at 03:00 so he can queue – but that does not guarantee anything. The supermarket may say the delivery did not arrive, or things might run out by the time he gets to the front of the queue, or there might only be soap when he wants sugar.

The Central Venezuelan Bank (BCV) used to publish an official scarcity index. In April 2014 it was at 25.3%. That was the last time the figure was made public.

There are hundreds of jars of tomato sauce, but no pasta. You will find plenty of gel to fix your hair with “cement effect”, but there is no trace of shampoo, necessary to return your hair to its less rigid state.

It is impossible to get cow’s milk. Almond milk is a healthy but expensive alternative.

The government is trying to fight against people who queue and then sell goods at massive mark-ups. It has regulated prices at some supermarkets and prioritised poor people at others.

But while the crisis continues, prices and politics will be the two big conversation topics in Caracas.