The president of Coop Italia, Marco Pedroni, has warned of a “significant impact” on consumers due to the effect of the war in Ukraine.
Pedroni expressed concern over the increase of production costs in the agri-food chain, which is spilling over onto retail prices, saying, “We were already coming from a phase of high inflation, which this war is fuelling and exploding, to the point of risking some shortage of raw materials.”
In an attempt to shield its customers from the continued price hikes, the cooperative has extended its ‘Protected Prices’ initiative until the end of April, selling over 200 Coop-branded products at frozen prices.
The retailer is also trying to open up new markets for raw materials for suppliers of private-label products, “both geographically and in terms of product types,” according to Coop Italia’s managing director, Maura Latini.
However, Latini admitted, “It will not be easy or immediate because the liberalised market has driven up prices everywhere.”
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Latini pointed out that Coop Italia continues to invest in Italian products, “aiming for the right balance between the needs of producers, caught in the grip of price increases, and the right of members and customers not to pay the full cost of living.”
Italy has traditionally important trade relations with Ukraine and Russia, but not to an extent that it is strictly dependent, for example, on stocks of durum wheat, soft wheat, and maize – the three main goods imported from the war zone.
The situation is somewhat worse for sunflower oil, which has the largest import quotas. In fact, Italy imports more than 60% of the seed oil from Ukraine.
Other products at risk of rising energy prices are dairy products, which require energy for processing, as well as sugar and eggs, which need heat for the sheds where the hens live.
Paper products are also impacted – not only handkerchiefs, toilet paper and kitchen paper, but also the paper used for packaging.
Coop and the entire Italian FMCG sector are asking the government to reduce energy charges to zero by 2022 and to lower VAT on essential consumer goods.