THE debate on whether supermarkets in Spain are profiteering took a new turn after a government report blamed the problem on factors beyond Spanish borders.
While overall inflation figures remain impressively low at just 4.1% in April, it does not feel like it for the average household.
Ordinary people find themselves grappling with food on supermarket shelves that is 16.5% more expensive year-on-year.
But in a Stability Program report to Brussels that outlines the government’s roadmap for public accounts and economic policy, the price hikes were put down to ‘an increase in international commodity prices.’
The report agreed that ‘food became the main factor contributing to inflation from the last quarter of 2022.’
But moved the blame away from supermarkets to a series of factors ranging from the increase in fuel and fertiliser costs to the intractable drought wracking Spain.
Although energy prices were the main driver of inflation, these increases had a knock-on effect on the cost of other products, such as chemicals and processed foods.
“The war in Ukraine also put pressure on food commodity markets, such as cereals, which had a direct and indirect impact through food price increases,” the report explained.
The study also highlighted the effect of drought on vegetables, fruit, and above all, olive oil.
This conclusion contradicts assertions by Podemos that supermarkets have been speculating and profiting at the expense of families’ budgets.
The report states that these fluctuations in international commodity prices ‘accounted for an 11-point contribution to the rise in food prices throughout 2022.’
With food inflation recording an increase of 11.6% in 2022, 95% of this surge can be attributed to external factors, according to the report.
The Ministry of Economy concluded: “The domestic components of prices, such as margins and wages in the food supply chain, are not the cause of this price tension.”
Podemos has insisted on market intervention, price controls, and even the creation of public supermarkets to tackle food inflation.
Yolanda Díaz, the Minister of Labour, has even suggested that supermarkets failing to offer reasonable prices should be prevented from distributing profits to shareholders.
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