Filling the shopping basket is a challenge for most families in our country, an ordeal even for many homes. Despite the reduction in VAT on some products and the numerous messages from the Government trying to downplay the issue, the price of food continues through the roof, suffocating consumers month after month.
What’s more, year after year, since the shopping basket has been rising without brake for more than a year. This means that from now on, first of all, the different statistical data will only reflect part of the real rise that consumers are noticing in their pockets since the current inflationary crisis began. So much so, that in February the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food registered a historic rise, reaching 16.6% year-on-year, being the highest figure since the beginning of the series in January 1994. However, this rise is not something new, since in the spring of 2022 the data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) already revealed that prices had risen quite strongly in the previous 12 months. Not with the virulence that we are now suffering, but enough so that the cumulative rise in these last two years has made a dent in the domestic economy of most of the Spaniards.
In this sense, the CPI for March 2022 already pointed to an increase in food prices of 6.8% compared to the same month in 2021. Added to the aforementioned 16.6% that have become more expensive in the last year, the Cumulative increase in the shopping basket in Spain reaches a whopping 24.5%. Climb upon climb.
But what does this mean in hard cash? Well, families have had to face an average extra cost of more than 1,400 euros in the shopping cart since spring 2021, according to calculations by the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU).
In this sense, the consumer organization recently quantified that families on average spent 924 euros more on food in the last year after the price rise. However, this increase does not take place based on a shopping basket at “normal” prices, but rather prices had already risen a year ago. Specifically, the OCU was already pointing in the spring of 2022 to an extra cost of more than 500 euros in food compared to 2021. Therefore, in these last two years, the Spanish have seen how their usual shopping basket has become more expensive remarkably, approaching an increase of 1,500 euros.
And worst of all, everything seems to indicate that the accumulated rise is going to get worse. Because? Well, because the rise in the CPI for food got completely out of control in April 2022, when it went from the 6.8% rise in March to 10.1%. It was at that time that food prices began to rise at double-digit speed, from which they have not fallen for a single month since then, even exceeding 15% in the last five months. This means that if the next CPI data for March, which we will know on April 14 – the leading indicator will be published on March 30, but without reference to food – follows the same trend of the last semester and marks above 15% rise in food, the cumulative rise of the last two years will be around 30%. An absolute barbarity, no matter how much the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, insists that the Spaniards commune with mill wheels by assuring that she does – she must be the only Spaniard – has already noticed a drop in going to school buys.
Or no matter how much the Minister of Food, Luis Planas, looks for excuses in the “bad weather” to justify the record rise of 16% last February, when it is a level very similar to that registered since the end of last summer. All this while other measures imposed by the Government have had a negative impact on prices, such as the new tax on plastics or the new regulations on transport, which according to the carriers themselves have increased the costs of transport by 20%. chain.
According to the OCU, the latest rise causes a large number of basic products to have significantly increased their prices. Sugar is the food that has increased the most compared to February 2022, its price increasing by 52%, followed by butter (39%) and milk (33%). Likewise, olive and sunflower oil have also been victims of this increase, increasing their prices by 33% and 27%, respectively, in the last year. Added to these products are eggs (+28%), legumes and fresh vegetables (24%), flour and other cereals (26%), rice (21%) and potatoes (21%). But also the price of cheese (20%), poultry, pork and beef (around 14%) and bread (13%) have increased considerably.
In December, the OCU already warned that the increase in inflation in food had caused nine out of ten consumers to change their habits, prioritizing products on sale, white brands and purchases in the cheapest supermarkets. In addition, the difficulties in making ends meet have also been reflected in the consumption of fresh products, such as meat and fish, since this has been reduced by 32% in many families, as well as in the case of fruit and vegetables (18%), replacing them with cheaper packaged and frozen foods.
Faced with this problematic scenario, the OCU has demanded that the Government “urgently and substantially” increase the amount of the check of 200 euros for families with incomes of less than 27,000 euros, as well as the number of beneficiaries, also raising the limits of income. In addition, he considers that the 0% VAT should also be applied to meat and fish -in line with what the Popular Party has asked Moncloa-, since they are the main sources of protein for many families.