A quarter of all Belgians now buy less fruit and vegetables compared to this time last year, as soaring food prices and general high inflation have forced households to radically restructure their supermarket spending habits.
According to a study commissioned by Aldi Belgium, more than half of all Belgians now only purchase fruit and vegetables when they are on sale. "Currently, the purchase of fresh products such as fruits and vegetables is strongly influenced by promotions," the survey noted.
In addition, the study recorded an increase in the number of Belgians buying cheaper fruit: 10% of the survey's respondents stated that they purchase apples, pears and bananas more often than they did before in order to cut costs.
A nutritional crisis
The Aldi survey follows the recent news that Belgium registered a headline inflation rate of 5.60% this April: more than four-and-a-half times higher than in April last year. Notably, food was found to make the largest positive contribution to the headline inflation rate (3.19 percentage points).
A study published last month by consumer analysis firm Test Achats also found that supermarket prices are 20.6% higher than they were in 2022. Notably, the three supermarket items which were reported to have increased the most in price were vegetables: iceberg lettuce was found to be 53% more expensive compared to last year, followed by cucumbers (51%) and onions (50%).
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"Due to the further increase in inflation, an average family of two now spends €521 per month in the supermarket," said Test Achats spokesperson Laura Clays. "That is €89 more than a year ago."
Clays – who has previously warned of a "nutritional crisis" developing in Belgium – repeated her call for the Federal Government to freeze prices for certain key products in order to protect poorer households.
"We call on governments to think about ways to help households, such as the anti-inflation basket that is now making its appearance in France. These are a number of basic products, the price of which is fixed for a certain time."