4 out of 10 food items affected by the VAT reduction became more expensive during the first half of the year

Ministry of Agriculture now replies to FACUA that it has not carried out the price monitoring announced by Minister Planas. The association extends its complaints to the CNMC against eight large distribution chains.

4 out of 10 food items affected by the VAT reduction became more expensive during the first half of the year

In June, FACUA-Consumers in Action carried out a new survey on the evolution of almost a thousand food products affected by the VAT reduction in eight large retail chains. Four out of ten of the products analysed by the association have increased in price. Bearing in mind that in April and May it was also four out of ten, this figure confirms the stabilisation of the inflationary escalation recorded in the first quarter of the year. It should be recalled that in March, one out of every three had risen in price, and in February, one out of every five.

Faced with the lack of transparency from the Government on the studies announced by the Ministry of Agriculture through its price observatory, FACUA requested in May, through the Transparency Portal, information on their conclusions and in how many establishments, how many prices and on what dates the analyses were being carried out. The reply, which the association has just received, states that Agriculture has not carried out these studies because "it has no powers in fiscal matters". This is despite the fact that the Ministry's website contains information on price monitoring carried out, for example, at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

FACUA is going to extend the complaints it already filed in January, February, March, April and May with the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), which to date has still not given it any kind of response. The complaints will again be directed against all the chains under analysis: Alcampo, Aldi, Carrefour, Dia, Eroski, Lidl, Hipercor and Mercadona.

Almost a thousand prices analysed

The association, as it does on a monthly basis, has reviewed the evolution of 999 prices in these eight distribution chains. The new analyses were carried out on 1, 5 and 6 June. They have detected that in 447, i.e. 44.7%, the price has risen compared to what it was on 30 December after the VAT reduction was applied (see full study).

Article 72 of Royal Decree-Law 20/2022, of 27 December, states in section 3 that "the reduction in the tax rate will benefit the consumer in its entirety, without, therefore, the amount of the reduction being used totally or partially to increase the business profit margin with the consequent increase in prices in the chain of production, distribution or consumption of the products".

Aldi is once again the supermarket with the highest rises in prices

In June, the highest number of anomalies were detected at Aldi, where 34 of the 59 prices analysed were higher (57.6%). It is followed by Carrefour, with 91 products more expensive than on 30 December out of a sample of 164 prices (55.4%).

Hipercor, for its part, has increased 75 of the 167 prices analysed (44.9%), while Lidl has increased 27 of the 61 food products included in this study (44.2%). The association has detected 60 more expensive prices in Dia out of a total of 136 food items (44.1%) while in Eroski 59 items have become more expensive out of the 134 covered (44%).

The two chains with the lowest percentage of price rises were Alcampo, with 55 products out of the 135 included in the analysis (40.7%) and Mercadona, with 46 rises out of the 143 prices recorded (32.1%).

This total of 447 more expensive prices represents a slight increase compared to the 438 detected in May on an almost identical sample (999 this month compared to 1,000 last month). Therefore, in the last month, nine prices affected by the VAT reduction have become more expensive compared to those that had already increased during the first five months of the year.

In Dia, Hipercor, Alcampo and Lidl, the total number of foods whose prices have increased compared to those of last May has been reduced. Meanwhile, Mercadona, Aldi, Eroski and Carrefour have continued to increase their prices over the last month.

Fruit and vegetables continue to lead the way in price rises

Of the total of 447 prices in which FACUA has detected a rise in its comparison, 160 are for fruit or vegetables (35.8% of the total), 89 are mostly olive or sunflower oil (20%) and 62 are milk or dairy products (13.8%).

For their part, 57 price increases were found among rice and pasta (12.5%) and 36 among pulses (8%). The remaining thirty or so prices correspond to eggs, flour and bread.

Largest rises in the eight supermarkets analysed

In Mercadona and Eroski, the packet of Sabroz rice has risen from 1.82 euros at the beginning of the year to 2.68 euros in June, an increase of 47.4%. In Hipercor, this same product has become even more expensive, rising from 1.82 to 2.79 euros (an increase of 53.5%).

In Dia, a 1 kg bag of carrots is currently worth 1.25 euros, 46% more than in January, when it cost 0.86 euros after the VAT reduction.

In Alcampo, the product with the highest price increase over the last few months has been the 1l bottle of Coosur brand olive oil, rising from 5.70 euros in January to 8.68 euros in June (52% more expensive).

At Aldi, a bag of El Mercado brand carrots has gone from 0.85 to 1.19 euros, which translates into an increase of 39% so far this year. In Carrefour, a kilo of pomegranates was worth 1.91 euros in January, with the VAT reduction already applied. At the beginning of June, the price was 5.49 euros, 186.9% more expensive.