April 14. 2024. 6:12

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Belgium’s supermarket prices increase by 20%

Prices in supermarkets have increased by around 19.3% over the last three months compared to the previous year, with inflation exceeding 20% for the first time in March, a study by the consumers association Testachats revealed on Tuesday.

Inflation peaked at 20.6% in March, mainly due to vegetables, which were, on average 31% more expensive in March 2023 than in March 2022. But when excluding potatoes from this calculation – the price is rising at a slower rate – inflation for vegetables is 40%, the association adds. The increase in vegetable prices is partly due to energy prices, making it more expensive to heat greenhouses during the winter.

The analysis is based on a basket of more than 3,000 essential products (food, cleaning and hygiene products) sold in seven supermarkets nationwide. It shows that the average two-person household spends around €521 per month on groceries, which is €89 more than a year ago and €9 more than in February 2023.

“We are asking the government to establish an ‘anti-inflation basket’, following France’s example, which allows the prices of certain basic products to be frozen […] in all supermarkets in the country,” Julie Frère, spokesperson for Testachats, told on RTL Info on Tuesday.

In addition to vegetables, paper products such as tissues, toilet paper and kitchen towels are, on average, 39% more expensive than in March last year. The consumer association found that dairy products are 26% more than last year, bread is 24% more expensive, and meat is 18% more expensive – with a notable 31% increase for poultry, partly caused by bird flu.

The association opposes proposals on the government’s table to abolish supermarket promotions, such as the “buy one get one for free”. “This is not the right time at all,” the spokesperson insists.

The consumers’ association also points to the coming tax reform, which foresees “an increase in VAT from 6 to 9% on a series of products, like dairy products or bread”. “We believe this measure should not be adopted in view of the inflation figures,” the spokesperson added.

(Anne-Sophie Gayet | EURACTIV.com)