The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Maltese consumers paying 12% more than the EU average for staple food products

David Lindsay Saturday, 22 June 2019, 07:10 Last update: about 30 days ago

Maltese consumers are treated to the ninth-highest prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages in the whole of the European Union, figures release by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm, showed yesterday.

Maltese consumers, in fact, pay 12% above the European Union average to put food on their and their families’ tables.

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The figures are concerning when one factors in the fact the Maltese consumers’ purchasing power stands at around 20% lower than the EU average, leaving an overall deficit at the supermarket check-out of around an overall 32% as compared to EU averages.

The figures relate to 2018 and are based on the results of a price survey covering 440 products across Europe.

The only countries with higher food prices than Malta are: Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, France and Belgium.  Italy comes in just behind Malta at 11% over the EU average.

Countries such as Germany, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom – states with far higher average wages and greater consumer purchasing power – are far cheaper than malta for foodstuffs.

For breads and cereals, Maltese shoppers pay 11% more than the EU average, while for milk, eggs and cheese they fork out 17% more.

Meat was slightly cheaper than the EU average, 2% less, while alcoholic beverages are 9% higher.  Tobacco products, meanwhile, are 6% cheaper in Malta than the EU average.

Food prices differ greatly across the EU, with prices being twice as high in the most expensive Member State than in the cheapest one.

Overall, Denmark had the highest price level for food and non-alcoholic beverages in the EU in 2018, at 130% of the EU average, followed by Luxembourg and Austria (both 125%), Ireland and Finland (both 120%) and Sweden (117%). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest price levels were observed in Romania (66%), Poland (69%), Bulgaria (76%), Lithuania (82%), Czechia (84%) and Hungary (85%).

Comparative data on consumer price levels are also available for more detailed breakdowns of food products. For bread and cereals, price levels ranged from 54% of the EU average in Romania to 152% in Denmark; for meat from 63% in Poland and Romania to 146% in Austria; and for milk, cheese & eggs from 71% in Poland to 136% in Cyprus.

The price levels for alcoholic beverages ranged from one to almost two and a half. The lowest price levels were registered in Bulgaria and Romania (both 74% of the EU average) and Hungary (77%), and the highest in Finland (182%), Ireland (177%) and Sweden (152%).

For tobacco, the price levels were four times higher in the most expensive Member State than in the cheapest. The lowest price levels were observed in Bulgaria (49% of the EU average), Poland (60%) and Croatia (62%), and the highest in the United Kingdom (204%), Ireland (201%) and France (141%).

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