In May, inflation continued its downward trajectory and dropped to 5.2%, according to figures released by Belgium’s statistics office, Statbel. In April, it was 5.6%, and in March, 6.67%.
Despite this, core inflation – which does not take into account the evolution of energy prices and food products – rose to 8.7% in May, up from 8.28% in April and 8.57% in March.
Using the health index – which calculates inflation based on the consumer price index without products detrimental to health such as cigarettes or petrol – inflation decreased from 5.95% to 5.0%. The smoothed health index stood at 124.63 points in May. The next point at which social benefits and remuneration will be adjusted is at 125.6 points.
Unlike last year, energy prices now exert a downward pressure of inflation in Belgium, led by natural gas (-60.4% since last year). However, wood and other solid fuels (+48.2%), as well as flight tickets (41.8%) are still driving inflation upwards.
Food products, including alcoholic beverages, also continue to have an inflationary effect. Their average prices rose by 15.51% in May, against 16.65% in April.
Compared to the same month last year, the price of cocoa and chocolate-based powder increased by 31.8%, sugar by 29.1%, pizzas and quiches by 28.9%, and whole milk by 28.8%.
According to inflation estimates based on Europe’s Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), inflation in Belgium amounted to 2.7% in May 2023, Statbel reports.
HICP is used for comparison purposes between European countries and the European Central Bank for determining monetary policy. The results of the HICP index are different due to differences in weighting and the composition of an average basket of goods.