IRELAND is one of the most expensive countries in Europe to buy food.
We have some of the highest prices for food, drink and tobacco in the European Union (EU), according to a new Eurostat survey.
And when it comes to cigarettes, Irish prices are almost double the rest of Europe at 99pc above average, the highest in the EU.
Hungary has the lowest cigarette prices in the EU, at 52pc of the average.
Irish smokers pay four times as much as people in Hungary, Lithuania and Bulgaria, although British prices are almost as high as ours.
Critics have long claimed that high government taxes on cigarettes help fuel the black market in cigarettes, although anti-smoking campaigners have consistently called for higher prices because of health risks associated with cigarettes.
Irish shoppers pay more than average for milk, cheese and eggs at 19pc above the EU average – even though Ireland is a huge exporter and producer of dairy products.
Despite a steep rise in the numbers out of work, wage cuts and stealth taxes, prices here remain among the highest in Europe for many basics, the survey shows.
The average Irish food price is 18pc higher than the rest of the EU and our drink prices are some of the highest in the EU, 62pc higher than average.
Irish drink prices were double those in cheapest Bulgaria, Romania and Germany.
We are the fifth most expensive country in the EU for food, with milk, meat and bread all above average.
Fish costs are 9pc above average, while bread and cereals are 10pc above the EU average price.
Even the humble spud, a staple food in Ireland, costs more here.
Fruits, vegetables and potatoes are all 38pc above the EU average, the Eurostat survey shows.
"Among the members states, Denmark is the most expensive country for food and non-alcoholic beverages," the Eurostat report said.
"Finland has the highest price level for alcoholic beverages in the EU, while Ireland is by far the most expensive for tobacco."
And if you want to find the cheapest place to live in Europe when it comes to basic foodstuffs, the report says the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia "is the least expensive country of all 37 in all four product groups".
Among EU member states, the lowest prices for food in 2012 were in Poland, for alcohol in Bulgaria, for non-alcoholic beverages in Romania and for tobacco in Hungary, the report said.
Ireland is also a major exporter and producer of meat, but our prices are still 10pc higher than in our nearest neighbour, Britain, which is at the EU average.