In December alone, food prices in Serbia rose by 12.4 percent

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Food prices in the world in the previous year, according to the food price index calculated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), increased by as much as 28 percent.

As Danas writes, almost everything has become more expensive, especially cereals, wheat, corn, but also milk, meat, oil and sugar. In addition to fuel, food prices in Serbia drove inflation to 7.9 percent (in December compared to December 2020), in Europe only behind Latvia and Estonia. In the eurozone, year-on-year inflation reached five percent in December, which is the highest since the euro existed in the last 20 years.

However, what distinguishes the EU, especially the countries of the Eurozone and Serbia, is the different consumer basket, and even the effect of inflation. Namely, food and beverages participate in the consumer basket of the Eurozone with 21.7 percent, and in Serbia with 31.4 percent. When alcoholic beverages and tobacco are added, almost 40 percent of the average consumer basket goes to these products.

On the other hand, food in Serbia has become much more expensive in the past year than in the eurozone. While in our country in December, the growth of food prices was 12.4 percent in the eurozone, only 3.2 percent, where the growth of fresh food prices was 4.7 percent, and processed food, alcohol and tobacco 3.2 percent. So, the price of food in Serbia is almost three times more expensive, in which it makes a much higher percentage of household consumption, than in the EU.

According to the data of the Bureau of Statistics for December, compared to the same month last year, the prices of vegetables increased the most by 22.4 percent and oil by 21 percent. Meat and bread and cereals had an above-average increase of 14.3 percent and 11.2 percent. And all other groceries have risen in price by an average of between six and ten percent.

Even if we did not have a high standard, at least it used to be possible to eat cheaper than in developed European countries, but that difference is rapidly decreasing, much faster than the difference in the standard.

According to the latest Eurostat data, although for 2020, food prices in Serbia were about 17 percent lower than the EU average, approximately at the level of Hungary and about 20 percent below prices in Germany. The average household consumption was only about 58 percent of the EU household consumption, and twice less than the average German household.

We will find out how much difference there was last year at the end of this year, but “Danas” made a small comparison of the prices of some groceries in our supermarkets with similar stores in Germany and Hungary.

It should be said that it is difficult to compare prices, because, as Goran Papović, president of the National Consumers’ Organization of Serbia, explains, even in stores of the same chain in one country, prices differ.

– We have given up on making a consumer basket because it is difficult to find an average price and compare them, because there are stocks, different prices between chains, and even within one retail chain. What seems to us is that traders are using global food prices to raise prices and thus compensate for the losses they had in the pandemic. Unfortunately, I think that our prices are not yet a consequence of supply and demand, because when you look at the prices of some products here and abroad, you will not be well. Not to mention the differences in salaries – Papović estimates.

So, according to research conducted by “Danas”, the prices of most products in Serbia are lower than in Germany, but not much, with some difficult to understand exceptions such as flour or oil, which are much cheaper in Germany than in our country. On the other hand, prices in Hungarian supermarkets are mostly lower than in ours.

Thus, the price of secondary milk (1.5 percent mm) in Serbia is 1.27 euros, in Germany 1.3 euros, and in Hungary one euro. The price of 10 eggs is 1.35 euros in Serbia, three euros in Germany and 1.33 euros in Hungary. Flour type 400 costs 0.7 euros in Serbia, 0.45 euros in Germany, and one euro in Hungary. A kilogram of sugar in Serbia costs 0.76 euros, in Germany 0.79, and in Hungary also 0.79 euros. A liter of sunflower oil in Serbia is 1.7 euros, in Germany 1.3 euros, while in Hungary it is 1.9 euros.

The average net salary in Germany is around 2,950 euros, in Hungary 860 euros, and in Serbia 588 euros.

Agroeconomist Vojislav Stanković attributes the smaller increase in food prices in the EU than in Serbia to much higher state subsidies to food producers.

– In addition, the demand in the EU is stable, so producers have less reason to increase prices. However, much of our rise in food prices is due to high prices in the international market. This is shown by the fact that last year (in 11 months) we reduced the physical volume of food exports by 8.5 percent, and the value of exports increased by 21 percent. This shows that world prices are much higher than domestic ones, and that mostly refers to cereals whose physical volume of exports has significantly decreased compared to 2020 due to the drought, than the export of processed food – explains Stanković.

He also warns that the situation with high food prices could continue because now farmers do not have enough nitrogen fertilizer to feed wheat, and its price has almost quadrupled compared to last year.

– If high inflation continues, the purchasing power of all social strata except the richest will be significantly reduced. In Serbia, food participates with 37% in consumption, while in industrialized countries it is three times less – warns Stanković, adding that the state will have to work on serious social measures, instead of pre-election distribution of money, Morava reports.

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