Nuria Triguero / Alba Martín (graphics)
Friday, 10 November 2023, 16:47
Inflation was, until last year, like a fine rain that little by little upped the cost of the shopping basket. That drizzle has become a downpour and can no longer be ignored. The escalation in food prices is so strong that it is felt with every visit to the supermarket. Better still to look back further and compare the true scale of these price rises. A full tank of fuel costing 100 euros in 2013 would need almost another 40 euros today to r Full. This is not just hearsay, this comes from the Household Food Consumption Panel, which has been carrying out data analysis since 1987 for the now Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from price surveys with consumers and retailers.
Their study shows that the average retail price of food in Andalucía rose by 39.5% over the last decade, with the previous decade's increase being only 21.8%. Some product groups have increased even further: oils and fats, fresh vegetables, fish, meat, flour and pasta are the worst culprits (in descending order).
María Jesús Fernández, senior economist at Funcas, explains the dramatic price increases in our shopping basket. "Food prices have always grown faster than general CPI [Consumer Price Index], especially unprocessed foods: fish, fruit, pulses, vegetables, meat less so... When the current inflationary period began, this trend was heightened because production of these foods is directly affected by factors such as the rise in energy costs, animal feed, cereals and other basic raw materials for agriculture. Cost increases for the food industry are greater than those in other industries. Then add in the current drought, which is key to understanding the drop in oil production and its subsequent rise in price."
Consumer associations are more critical in their interpretation of supermarket price increases. In fact Facua has reported eight distribution chains to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to investigate whether their profit margins have increased thanks to price rises in foods that benefit from reduced VAT.
From the endless list of groceries monitored by the Household Food Consumption Panel, SUR has selected 75 items that typically feature on most shopping lists. Unsurprisingly, olive oil tops the rankings in most expensive foods for the last decade in Andalucía (109% rise). A less noticeable, yet similar hike in price, applies to the humble green bean.
Note that this data comes from the August survey and olive oil prices are still going crazy. The ranking shows an average price of 6.7 euros per litre for extra virgin, but currently this product cannot be bought for under 8 euros.
The third most expensive item in the shopping basket for the last decade is a fruit: kiwi, up by 108%. Fourth and fifth are two very seasonal products for Christmas: Iberian ham and smoked salmon, both up by 90%. Plaice follows closely behind, going from 7.5 to 14 euros per kilo. A real basic, rice, comes eighth. In 2013 it did not reach one euro, now it costs on average 1.7 euros.
The humble tomato (9th) has shot up in price from 80 cents to close on 2 euros per kilo. Our Top 10 closes with olives where the stuffed varieties now cost 77% more than in 2013.
Meat as a food category has experienced an average price increase of 36% since 2013, with sausages, cold cuts and cured meats increasing the most. Iberian cured ham leads the way, costing on average 35 euros per kilo in Andalucía, up almost 92%. Even its poor relation, cooked ham, has risen by 60%, with salami not far behind. Of the fresh meats most popular with consumers we see more moderate, but nevertheless striking, increases: 36% for pork, 39% for beef and 41% for chicken.
Fish and seafood has undergone an increase of almost 50% on supermarket shelves since 2013. Smoked salmon has skyrocketed the most at nearly 100%, reaching 36.7 euros per kilo. Curiously enough, fresh salmon has only increased by 24.5%.
Plaice, both fresh and frozen, is the second fish to undergo hefty price increases since 2013: 90%, now costing an average of 14 euros per kilo. Squid, octopus and hake have exceeded 50%. Special mention goes to the modest tin of tuna, with an immodest 37% average price increase (more so for tuna in (very expensive) olive oil).
The dairy product for its price increase has to be butter: up by 77% since 2013 and currently exceeding 10 euros per kilo. The most basic milk (UHT) is now dangerously close to 1 euro per litre, a 38% rise. Yoghurt has increased by 54% and fresh cheese by 42%. Here's a quirky fact though: unsalted cheese costs almost 4 euros per kilo more than salted cheese.
Setting the table for breakfast needs a bigger budget in Andalucía than 10 years ago. Inflation has hit coffee fans hard, up by 44%, (on average, 15.6 euros per kilo).
Glucose addiction also comes at a high price: packaged pastries have risen by 45%, milk chocolate by 37%, cocoa spread by 36% and biscuits by 34%, mostly thanks to sugar being up by 55%. The only products in this category to escape inflationary pressures are, oddly enough, breakfast cereals. Bread, for its part, has gone up, but only by 20%.
Rice, pulses and pasta are the basics in our weekly shop and the staples to bulk up a family meal without spending a fortune. They still are our staples, but the high cost of cereals and the rise in energy costs have rendered these non-perishables less affordable, hitting the less well-off harder in their pockets. Rice prices have skyrocketed by 72% since 2013, with short-grain rice (bomba) reaching extortionate prices. Pulses such as lentils now exceed 50%; chickpeas with a smaller increase. In turn, all pasta reflects the price rises in flour, up by 49%.
Unsurprisingly, the price rises for olive oil are the story making the headlines. The very foundation of the Mediterranean diet is on its way to becoming a luxury item, with extra virgin olive oil already exceeding 9 euros per litre, up from the last consumer survey in August. Ten years ago, a litre cost 3.22 euros, an increase of almost 110%. Even a lower quality olive oil (pulp-pressed) is not immune to inflation, rising by 81% (3.8 euros per litre).
Faced with this sharp increase, some consumers have switched to seed oils. But these products, being more affordable than olive-based products, have also become significantly more expensive. Sunflower oil now stands at a 45% increase, approaching 2 euros per litre. Even margarine has risen nearly 60%.
After olive oil, fresh vegetables are the category most affected by inflation. The average price of vegetables has practically doubled in the last decade. Fruit has also become more expensive, but half that of veg. The green bean is the vegetable whose price has increased the most, while kiwi leads the fruits. Both products have more than doubled in price.
It is worth highlighting the sharp increase in prices for the basic vegetables in our shopping baskets: tomatoes, onions and peppers have all risen by over 50%. The Ministry's price study also reflects the upward trend in prices for watermelon and other types of melon, fruits that became significantly more expensive throughout summer this year.
Turning to canned and frozen veg, olives are once more the most expensive product in this category due to price hikes in the raw material. A can of stuffed olives costs 77% more today than in 2013. Similarly, tomato purée (whose basic ingredients are tomato, oil and sugar) costs 56% more. Other frozen or canned vegetables have also been affected by price rise in their raw ingredients. The prices of sauces and other prepared food products have increased in price in a more moderate fashion.
Last, but not least, inflation has also taken its toll on all beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. A can of cola was worth less than 50 cents ten years ago, while now it is over 80 - an increase of 62%. Juices have also shot up in price, partly as a result of the rising cost of their raw ingredients. Wine and beer have not escaped either, rising by more than 40%.
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