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Supermarket food prices up 12% in a year, says Test-Achats
The price of everyday food items in Belgian supermarkets has grown by 12% in the past year, according to a wide-ranging new study by consumer protection watchdog Test-Achats.
The report is based on price checks of 3,000 products in August in seven major Belgian supermarket chains: Albert Heijn, Carrefour, Colruyt, Cora, Delhaize, Aldi and Lidl.
Among the food items seeing the biggest price rises were spaghetti, toilet paper, paper towels and tissues, butter and mustard, which were all up between 30% and 35%.
Test-Achats said the soaring cost of shopping was largely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is a major exporter of ingredients including mustard seeds, grain and vegetable oil.
The price of dairy products was up 17% on average over the past year, according to the study. Personal care items were 13% more expensive and fresh meat and pet food 12% costlier.
Meanwhile, a widening gap between supermarket prices in Belgium and neighbouring countries is pushing more Belgians living near an international border to do their grocery shopping elsewhere, according to retail marketing expert Pierre-Alexandre Billiet.
"French hypermarkets near the Belgian border apply excessively attractive prices to attract Belgians even more," said Billiet, adding that French supermarkets can be 10% to 15% cheaper than those in Belgium.
"In France, there is a price war between Leclerc and Auchan that drives prices down. In Belgium, we have lower purchasing volumes than France. When Colruyt or even Carrefour Belgium buys from Coca-Cola, it will always pay more than Carrefour France which buys larger volumes."
He said there would always be a price gap between Belgian and French supermarket shopping, as Belgium has higher labour costs and more onerous fixed costs such as dual-language packaging.