It’s no secret that the cost of living has been rising both here in Spain and around the world.
According to a study by the country’s Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU), the average price of supermarket products increased by 9.4% between March 20, 2021, and March 8, 2022.
The study monitored the prices of 156 food, hygiene and other products from nine supermarket chains present in 10 Spanish cities revealing which firms had increased their prices the most.
Although the price increases are widespread and not limited to one or two chains, the magnitude in which the prices have been hiked varies across each of the firms.
Which chains have increased the prices the most?
With all of us looking to make each of our euros go further, it’s important to know where we can get more for our money.
According to the OCU findings, it was Carrefour that increased its products the most over the past 12 months, raising them by a whopping 12.1%.
This was closely followed by the popular chain Mercadona which increased its prices by 11.4%.
Despite the price hikes, these supermarket chains “remain among the cheapest national chains, along with Alcampo," confirmed the OCU.
So what of the other major chains?
Upmarket supermarket chain El Corte Inglés increased its prices by just 7.7% over the last 12 months, as did Hipercor making them the two supermarkets with the smallest price increases.
These were followed by Eroski (9.5%), Alcampo (9.2%), Dia (8.5%), Caprabo (8.4%) and Condis (8.4%).
Worrying rise in the price of white brand products
Something the OCU study revealed that is of most concern is that the biggest increases were seen in ‘white brands’ commonly associated with shoppers of a lower socioeconomic level.
The OCU believes that if the current trends are maintained, then the average family could see an increase of around 500 Euros per year in their shopping basket.
Price increases affected around 84% of products analysed by the OCU with the biggest rises registered in food items.
Oil was 34% more expensive than it was a year ago, ahead of fish (16%), packaged foods (11%) and dairy products (11%).
Why have food prices been rising?
Experts believe that there are a number of reasons why the cost of our groceries has risen so much.
One reason is that the economies of the world ground to a halt during the pandemic with less demand for gas and fossil fuel production. This was followed by a sharp rebound with a rapid increase in demand.
The rising price of raw materials has also had an impact in recent months with the price of fertilisers used to produce wheat and oil also increasing significantly.
Then there is the sharp rise in the cost of energy which has impacted the cost of farming, livestock and fisheries. Transportation and manufacturing costs have also rocketed as a result.
Geopolitical tensions have elevated the price of cereals and other products supplied by Ukraine and may lead to changes in the energy market on a European level.
Same price, less product
One trick that the OCU believes a number of brands are now using is what is referred to as ‘reduction’.
Instead of increasing the price, the firm will sell the price at the usual price but reduce the quantity in effect, charging the consumer more.
According to the OCU, "Brands such as Gallo, Danone, Pescanova or Tulipán have already resorted to the tactic of maintaining the price at the expense of reducing the amount of product in their packaging.”
For example, the Revilla chorizo continues to be sold for one euro per packet, but while it used to contain 80 grams, it now contains 70. That is, it has gone from 14 slices to 12.
The same is happening with Campofrío, which used to sell a container of 110 grams of cooked ham and has now reduced it to 100 grams.
Popular soft drink firm Pepsi has also been guilty of the practice, reducing its two-litre bottles to 1.75 and increasing the price from 1.33 Euros to 1.48.