After analysing the prices of thousands of products such as bread, spices and dairy in Belgian stores, consumer organisation Test-Achats concluded that people's shopping baskets are – once again – becoming more expensive this month.
The organisation analysed more than 3,000 products and prices in the major supermarket chains (Aldi, Lidl, Albert Heijn, Carrefour, Colruyt, Cora and Delhaize) in March, and found that grocery shopping is 4.3% more expensive than a year ago.
"On average, you pay 9.4% more for beer than a year ago and the price of kitchen rolls has risen by 13.8%. Enough to make anyone cry, even if we do say so ourselves," Test-Achats said in a press release. "Fortunately, having a good cry is cheaper with the current price of onions, which has dropped by 3%. Want to dry your tears? Then leave those paper tissues behind (+7.4%)."
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While most products are getting more expensive, some prices are rising higher than others. These are the most striking increases:
Household paper: Just like last month, paper products increased the most (+11.46%). Kitchen rolls became on average 13.81% more expensive than a year ago, toilet paper +11.49% and tissues +7.49%.
Bread: Prices rose by an average of 7.38%, as did the price of flour (+5.69%). As a precaution and due to the recent high demand, a number of supermarkets have also started limiting their sales of flour per client.
Dairy products: On average, these are now 6.71% more expensive than a year ago. The prices of frying butter, dairy butter and herb butter, in particular, have increased (+15.87%). Young cheese (Gouda) and grated Emmental are also 9.57% more expensive, as is semi-skimmed milk (+7.28%).
Dry foods: These are now on average 6.29% more expensive than a year ago, but the biggest price difference compared to March 2021 are noted for spaghetti and capellini (+26.19%), frying oil (+24.5%), ground coffee and coffee pods (+13.9%), mayonnaise (+9.95%), mustard (+9.7%) and olive oil (+8.6%).
Beer: the price of beer rose by an average of 9.43% compared to last year.
Vegetables: On average 4.15% more expensive than last year, but the price difference is slightly smaller than last month. Tomatoes in particular are much more expensive than a year ago (+18.9%) and potatoes (+6% on average). However, onions (-3%), carrots and cucumbers (both -2%) have become slightly cheaper than last year.
Fish and seafood: Up on average by 3.7% compared to last year.
Charcuterie: Up 3.3% compared to last year.
Meat: Up slightly less than last month, but still 1.78% more expensive than at the same time last year.
Fruit: The same applies to fruit, which is now slightly cheaper than in February, but still +1.16% than in March of last year.
Why is everything getting more expensive?
The reasons for the price increase are still higher energy prices, but also scarcer raw materials such as wheat, oils (palm oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil and olive oil) and coffee. At the national level, milk prices are also increasing.
"Unfortunately, we do not expect an immediate improvement, as the war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia will also have an impact on the development of energy and commodity prices," said Test-Achats, referring to wheat and sunflower oil in particular.
The organisation urged people to choose their supermarket carefully, depending on their preference for private labels or national brands. "Bear in mind that price increases are not implemented in the same way in all shops."