A new study by the Consumers and Users Organisation in Spain (OCU) has shown that the cost of basic shopping has risen by 15.2 per cent in the past year, the highest increase in 34 years. As a result, it is advising people to be careful where they shop because the difference in price between the cheapest and most expensive supermarkets can be as much as 994 euros, nearly one fifth of the amount an average family spends on food a year.
OCU inspectors visited 1,180 stores in 65 towns and cities and compared prices offered in the biggest chains with those they charged for ordering online. They found that 95% of products were more expensive than a year ago, including sunflower oil (+118%), olive oil (+53%), flour (+50%) and its derivatives such as pasta (+56%) and ‘magdalena’ sponge cakes (+75%).
“These are all foods which may have been affected by the war in Ukraine,” the report said. Bananas from the Canary Islands were also over 64% more expensive, “which may be related to the volcanic eruption", it explained.
Only 12 products had gone down in price, including shampoo (-5%), avocados (-10%) and kiwi fruit (-6%), although in the case of the fruit this could be attributed to seasonal variations.
The OCU said most stores had increased their prices by 10% to 15% but some had gone much further. Shopping in the Dia group had become the most expensive: at Dia & Go it was up by 17.1%, La Plaza de Dia by 16.2% and Dia a Dia by 15.2%, while it also cost 16.1% more to shop at Mercadona than it did a year ago.
On the other hand, those where prices had risen the least were Alimerka (8.4%), Carrefour Express (8.5%) and BM Urban (8.8%).
The cheapest of all hypermarkets visited by the OCU was Alcampo in Coia, Vigo, and the cheapest chains were Tifer in Castilla y León; Dani in Jaén and Granada; and Family Cash. The cheapest chains nationwide were Alcampo and Supeco.
According to the report, the cheapest cities for food shopping are Vigo, Ciudad Real, Jerez de la Frontera, Almeria, Granada, Huelva, Puertollano and Palencia, while the most expensive are Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Girona, Madrid and Alcobendas-San Sebastián de los Reyes (Madrid).
By region, La Rioja, Extremadura, Galicia and Murcia are the cheapest, while the Balearics and Catalonia are the most pricey when it comes to filling the larder.