Prices in Belgian supermarkets are already 3 to 5% higher in the first weeks of 2022 when compared to the beginning of the pandemic.
The rise in prices was predicted back in September of last year, with experts pointing to a rise in global commodity prices and historically low profitability for the food industry as a result of an explosion in costs — in particular the price of energy.
Albert Heijn and Colruyt are keeping their prices unchanged for the time being, but grocery chains are calling this year’s negotiations with food producers the most difficult they’ve had in memory.
Inflation finally reaching the supermarkets
While prices in 2021 were at pre-pandemic levels for much of the year, according to figures from price analyst Daltix, inflation is catching up to supermarkets.
The biggest price increases can be seen at Carrefour, where prices went up with an average of 4.4% compared to the beginning of the pandemic. Delhaize saw a price increase of 3.1% and Aldi saw a price increase of 2.3%. No prices were available from Lidl.
Traditionally, Carrefour and Delhaize are the first to feel the price adjustments. They’ve adjusted prices for 4 and 8 percent of their products respectively in the first week of January, and analysts expect that more adjustments will be forthcoming.
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Not every chain has risen their prices yet
At Colruyt, the price increase remains small at +0.4%, but this is because Colruyt is considered a “price follower,” meaning they only raise prices when the other chains do the same.
Its biggest competitor Albert Heijn hasn’t yet raised its prices either, but RetailDetail believes increases are inevitable.
The food sector is being squeezed by rising costs of energy, transport and raw materials. Prices are predicted to stabilise from autumn onwards, driven by fierce competition in the retail market, according to Daltrix, which monitors the prices on the supermarkets' websites daily.
The main shareholder of Daltix is the Colruyt Group, but the research bureau claims to work independently and also cooperates with other companies.