Monday 20 November 2017

We pay more for food and drink than most of Europe

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

IRISH people pay more to eat, drink and smoke than nearly everyone else in Europe.

And for some staples such as fruit, vegetables and potatoes we're paying a whopping 38pc more than everyone else.

Overall, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages in Ireland was 18pc more expensive than the European Union average in 2012, a new Eurostat survey shows.

Alcohol prices here are 62pc higher than average and cigarettes are twice as dear – making them the most expensive in the whole EU.

Ireland was the fifth most expensive country in the EU for foodstuffs, with milk, meat and bread all well above average.

And the price gap has widened since 2011 when it stood at 17pc.

The survey found that Denmark was the most expensive EU country with prices 43pc higher than average, followed by Sweden, Austria, Finland and Ireland.

The survey is based on a basket of 500 comparable products across EU member states and 12 other countries outside the EU such as Turkey and Norway.

For alcohol, Irish prices were double those in cheapest Bulgaria, Romania and Germany.

And for cigarettes, Irish consumers pay 99pc more than average – four times as much as in Hungary, Lithuania and Bulgaria – and eight times as much as the cheapest, Macedonia.

Even though we're a huge producer and exporter of dairy products, the price of milk, cheese and eggs here is 19pc above average.

CHEAPEST

And for meat – which we also produce in abundance and export across Europe – prices are 10pc higher than in our nearest neighbour, Britain, whose prices are bang on the average for the EU.

Norway is by far the most expensive country to shop in, with the price of food a massive 86pc higher than in any other country in Europe, while alcohol and cigarettes are prohibitively priced at three times the EU average.

Macedonia is the cheapest country in Europe, with food prices 58pc and tobacco 25pc of the EU average.

Of our favourite holiday destinations, Spain is one of the cheapest, with most products around 10pc cheaper than average, but food prices in Italy and France are both around 10pc above the norm.

And though prices in Britain have increased in recent years they're still much cheaper than ours coming in at 4pc above the EU average.

Ibec's Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam said alcohol and tobacco prices were higher because of government tax, while for foodstuffs the price gap reflected the higher cost of doing business here.

"For example, labour costs are 17pc higher than in Britain and electricity costs are 18pc higher and there are also economies of scale in other countries," he said.

While Ireland was a big producer of meat and dairy products, high labour costs to process and handle these products resulted in prices being higher, he said.

Irish Independent

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