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A third of people in Belgium buy groceries abroad

22:27 29/07/2019

New figures from the market research company GfK show that people in Belgium regularly skip across the border to save money on food shopping. According to GfK, one in three people regularly travel abroad to shop at foreign supermarkets like Auchan, Jumbo and Lidl.

In 2019, Belgian residents together bought €616 million in food products abroad, a 4.6% increase compared to the year before. On average, they bought groceries abroad nine times per year, with France being the most popular destination. Wine, soft drinks and water especially are markedly cheaper in France than in Belgium.

The main driver behind the shopping journeys abroad is the high cost of food products in local supermarkets. According to a 2017 survey, groceries are on average 10% more expensive in Belgium than in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

But Belgian food industry federation Fevia says the high cost price of food isn’t the fault of local supermarkets. High food prices are instead the combined result of a national tax on soft drinks, a packaging levy as well as increased excise duties on alcoholic beverages, they say.

According to Fevia, the turnover of local supermarkets fell by five percentage points due to all the food shopping abroad, a decrease that they say should be of concern to everyone.

“Grocery shopping abroad is not a side show – it’s a growing problem. Increasing the prices of our products hurts companies but also weakens the Belgian economy,” Fevia chair Jan Vander Stichele said in a statement posted to the industry group’s website. “It’s why we are urging future governments to think long-term. Scrap the many taxes and invest in innovation.”

According to Fevia, half of Belgians live less than 50 kilometres from a country border with France, Luxemburg, the Netherlands or Germany.

Photo: Belga/Jonas Roosens

Written by Flanders Today



The lack of competitive pricing/price-fixing as is currently practised by ALL Belgian supermarkets is why the prices here are so much higher than in neighbouring countries. I was told by someone who worked at Auchan in France that it was widely known that for Carrefour to be allowed to take over the GB chain, they had to sign an under-the-table agreement NOT to offer lower prices.
Same overpricing in the fixed internet provider market. Dutch-owned Base was taken over by Belgian/Flemish Telenet, French-owned Orange is now going under the Proximus/Belgacom thumb and Belgacom was allowed to take over Scarlet. So basically there are only 2 national internet/mobile phone providers. And naturally the prices are ridiculously higher than in any neighbouring countries. Same with car insurance, with prices far higher than in neighbouring countries.
The captive audience theory is alive and well. The French word is 'pigeons'.

Jul 30, 2019 11:15
Frank Lee

You may buy groceries abroad because it's cheaper, but also because foreign supermarkets may carry brands or products not found in Belgium. Of course, the main reason for most is that one day when you're in line behind 20 other people at the local supermarket's cash register, and your frozen dishes are slowly thawing in the cart, you realize that it would have been faster to just drive to the closer border and do your shopping in France, Holland, Germany, or Luxembourg.

Jul 31, 2019 12:28