Thursday 22 February 2018

Food costs have fallen but we still pay more than UK

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

The cost of food has fallen slightly since the height of the boom, but we still pay more than consumers in the UK.

However, the gap between prices here and in Britain for a basket of goods has narrowed dramatically from 22pc more in 2007 to 3pc now.

You would pay €214.97 for a basket of 33 products now that would have cost you €217.68 in 2007, price data revealed.

The small fall in Ireland contrasts with the sharp rise in UK due to inflation.

Bread, beef, chicken, rashers, sausages and pork are all now cheaper in the Republic.

For example, a joint of beef costs €11.40 per kilo here compared with €12.64 in Britain, while a sliced pan is €1.28 on average compared with €1.51 there.

But shoppers here still pay around 3pc more for a basket of staples. And even though we produce them in abundance, cheese, milk and lamb are all still more expensive here.

For example, cheddar cheese costs €11.37 a kilo in Irish stores, compared with €9.78 in Britain.

Our survey is based on unpublished data from the Central Statistics Office and its UK equivalent the Office of National Statistics.

They record prices at thousands of stores countrywide, taking hundreds of prices for each item to work out the average selling prices of staples.

They also found that Irish food prices are cheaper than they were at the height of the boom.

For example, a bag of potatoes would cost you €3.11 now compared with €3.66 in 2007, while pork, fish, chicken, broccoli, carrots, onions and orange juice are also cheaper.

The Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI) welcomed the "long overdue" price reductions.

"For years we heard all kinds of excuses that didn't stack up about why prices were so much higher here," said CAI chief executive Dermott Jewell.

"It's a shame it's taken so long because for years shoppers here were paying way over the odds."

The industry should finally explain and remove the remaining price discrepancies, he added.

Welcomed

Ibec's retail division welcomed the narrowing of the gap in the past three years and said remaining price differences were down to costs remaining higher here.

"There are more smaller stores to supply here compared to the UK where supermarkets and hypermarkets dominate," said Retail Ireland director Frank Gleeson.

Eurostat figures show that price cuts in recent years have brought Irish food prices back close to 2005 levels -- whereas in the UK inflation means they've risen nearly 40pc since then.

Food prices across the European Union are up 22pc since 2005, whereas in Ireland they're only up 3pc.

Irish Independent

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