Belgian trade federation Comeos has warned that the country's supermarkets are facing their most difficult situation for 30 years, with margins falling to an all-time low of 1.29% and persistent inflation in the food retail sector.
According to Comeos price hikes in the sector are not solely being determined by raw material costs, but are also being influenced by purchasing and transport costs, wages, packaging, rents, energy and taxes, RTL.be reported.
The federation also suggests that prices would have risen even more if supermarkets hadn't reduced their margins and negotiated better terms with producers.
Prices Remaining High
Supermarket prices in Belgium in June 2023 were 17% higher than a year ago, but slightly down on the all-time high of 20%, which was recorded in March 2023.
According to a survey by consumer protection organisation Test Achats, a two-person household now spends an average of €530 in the supermarket each month, which is €77 more than a year ago and €2 more than in May.
Inflation has been slow to ease, despite falling prices for energy and raw materials such as oil, cereals and milk. At the same time, since January, the price of sugar has increased, affecting the price of products containing the ingredient, such as cookies and jam.
For the fourth consecutive month, vegetables have seen the biggest price increases compared to the previous year, with consumers paying, on average, 33% more than a year ago, excluding potatoes.
Among the other product categories that have seen significant price increases are stationery (+26%); kitchen and toilet paper (+26%), prepared meals (+25%); frozen products (+23%); dairy products (+21%); pet food (+20%); bread and groceries (+17%)
On the other hand, cleaning products (+15%), charcuterie (+13%), fruit (+13%), non-alcoholic beverages (+13%), personal hygiene products (+13%), meat (+11%), alcoholic beverages (+10%) and fish products (+9%) increased by less than the general inflation rate of 17%.
The monthly analysis is based on the prices of a basket of more than 3,000 products in Aldi, Lidl, Albert Heijn, Carrefour, Cora, Colruyt and Delhaize stores.