Controlling meals costs –


Meals costs have rocketed this yr because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, making meals accessibility a significant challenge.

Nonetheless, the European Fee is proscribed in tackling the problem.

In its communication on safeguarding meals safety, launched again in March 2022, it recommended that member states ought to slash their value-added tax (VAT) charges on foodstuffs – however which EU nations have adopted by way of on this?

On this Particular CAPitals version of the Agrifood Transient, EURACTIV’s community seems to be on the state of play throughout 9 EU nations and the measures these nations have taken to sort out hovering meals costs.


Slashing VAT on meals, not on France’s menu. In a single-year, French meals inflation reached 12%, with basic inflation of 5%, whereas dairy merchandise have elevated by 16.9% and meat by 14%. 

Limiting the affect of this inflation on buying energy is now a precedence of Emmanuel Macron’s new five-year time period. However in the intervening time, the help is especially associated to vitality (i.e. the tariff protect), in addition to some further measures similar to widening using meal vouchers granted by corporations. 

The concept of lowering VAT on fundamental requirements – backed by far-right Marine Le Pen within the final presidential elections – was talked about when Spain launched it in early January. However it isn’t on the agenda in France. 

For the Minister of the Economic system, Bruno Le Maire, France has “already a mean VAT charge that’s the lowest of all of the nations within the eurozone”. In keeping with him, this measure would, above all, favour large-scale distribution, which might then enhance its margins. 

Furthermore, slashing VAT in France is usually frowned upon and seen as an assault on state income as everybody advantages from it, together with the richest.

As an alternative, the federal government is engaged on an ‘anti-inflation’ basket, below which distributors could be invited to decide on 20 objects they may supply at diminished costs, similar to hygiene merchandise, dairy merchandise, recent greens, pasta, and many others.

The operation may very well be launched within the coming months after the interval of economic negotiations between producers, industrialists and distributors. Opposite to what’s already executed in Greece, the distributors will determine whether or not or to not implement this basket. (Hugo Struna |


Futile battle for VAT cuts. Meals costs in Germany rose by greater than 13% in comparison with the earlier yr, with costs for greens climbing by virtually 11% and people for meat merchandise by almost 15%.

These with decrease incomes are particularly affected by the value hikes, in keeping with Achim Spiller, a researcher who’s a part of the federal government advisory board on agriculture and diets.

“These liable to poverty are most affected, as they spend a a lot bigger proportion of their family revenue on meals – generally greater than 20%,” he lately informed EURACTIV.

To assist soften the blow of hovering meals costs whereas additionally incentivising wholesome diets, Inexperienced Agriculture Minister Cem Ödzemir has referred to as to scrap VAT on fruit and greens. Nonetheless, after fierce pushback from the Liberals in authorities (FDP), who holds the Finance Ministry answerable for setting VAT charges, he has admitted that the proposal is unlikely to go.

Resistance towards the step has additionally come from the most important coalition accomplice, the Social Democrats (SPD).

As an alternative, the federal government has relied on basic help measures towards inflation moderately than food-specific ones, similar to a short lived public transport flat charge or greater monetary help for college students.

Nonetheless, Spiller confused that as a result of disproportionate impact of excessive meals costs on poorer households, extra focused measures could be wanted, similar to one-off funds to these most in want. (Julia Dahm |


VAT reductions in Spain.  Meals costs are breaking information in Spain. In 2022, meals costs for customers rose by 15.7%, which suggests Spain’s highest annual enhance since 1994, in keeping with the Spanish Nationwide Institute of Statistics (INE).

Sugar (+50.6%), edible oils (+38.1%), milk (+37.2%) and eggs (29.8%)  confirmed the best will increase, though all meals product classes have been affected by inflation.

In December 2022, the Spanish Authorities adopted a bundle of measures to alleviate the affect of the financial impact of the battle in Ukraine.

This bundle included a number of selections to assist households deal with the rising costs of meals and different items, similar to vitality and a VAT discount for some foodstuffs.

Which means a cheque for €200 for households with an annual revenue of fewer than €27,000.

Relating to VAT cuts, the tax on so-called fundamental merchandise (similar to milk, fruit, greens or bread)  was diminished from 4% to 0%. Moreover, VAT on pasta and oils has been diminished from 10% to five%.

These VAT reductions are utilized till the top of June.

However the calls for of some political events and stakeholders to increase the measures to prime meals costs proceed to steer the general public debate in Spain, the place legislative, native and regional elections are scheduled in 2023. (Mercedes Salas | EFEAGRO)


No focused measures on meals costs regardless of hovering prices. The collection of crises which have hit the European continent – the COVID pandemic and now the battle in Ukraine – have put appreciable pressure on the buying energy of Italian households.

Specifically, the rising value of important items, a consequence of ever-increasing inflation, had a huge effect in 2022. In keeping with ISTAT’s findings, the rise in client costs reached 8.9% year-on-year in September 2022.

The findings of a current report from Altroconsumo, among the many main associations that shield client pursuits in important items, present an illuminating image of how a lot costs have risen.

Altroconsumo analysed the costs of pasta, flour, further virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, sugar, powdered espresso, long-life milk and tomato puree, zucchini, and bananas, amongst others.

“The outcomes present that, in comparison with the common costs recorded in September 2021, for all ten product classes, there are vital will increase of between 7% and 61%,” the survey reviews.

“In comparison with the earlier month (August), nevertheless, indicators of stability and even value reductions emerge: specifically, the price of flour (-1%), pasta (-1%) and further virgin olive oil (-2%), however particularly espresso (-6%) and sunflower oil (-5% in comparison with August, -11% in comparison with Might),” the report continues.

So what occurs when filling a hypothetical buying cart in comparison with a yr in the past? If in 2021, one would have spent a mean of €20.16 on all these items added collectively, in 2022, one would have spent €24.19 – a rise of about 20%.

“The price of every merchandise has various significantly, beginning with sunflower oil: +61% in a single yr. Contemplate that between March and April 2022 alone, the rise was 36%, and costs continued to rise till June,” Altroconsumo factors out. 

Solely in the course of the summer time was there the primary trace of stability, with the common value of sunflower oil falling 5% between August and September 2022 in comparison with Might.

Nonetheless, neither the present authorities nor its predecessor authorities has taken focused measures to regulate meals costs.

Within the newest price range legislation enacted by the manager led by Giorgia Meloni, many of the efforts have been dedicated to lowering the value of vitality, which is especially affected by inflation.

To this finish, €21 billion was allotted to help the upper bills of households and companies.

Bonuses have been additionally offered for the poorest households to assist them pay for family utilities. When it comes to buying energy, VAT on child and intimate hygiene merchandise was diminished to five%.

In the meantime, €500,000 is allotted to making a fund to finance a “buying card” managed by municipalities to buy fundamental meals objects. 

At current, the manager doesn’t plan additional measures to cut back VAT on important items.

Some events, within the final legislative mandate and within the elections to type the present parliament, had proposed zeroing VAT on important items, however no measure is at present on the agenda. (Francesco Stati |


Opposition calling to motion. Meals costs in Austria have been greater than 16% greater in December 2022 in comparison with the earlier yr. In the meantime, milk, cheese and egg costs rose by virtually 21%, whereas butter costs rose by as a lot as 37%.

Nonetheless, whereas the federal government launched a complete of three help packages because the begin of the battle in Ukraine, not one of the measures they contained was particular to meals costs.

The primary two packages targeted solely on vitality costs, whereas the third one included extra basic measures to melt the blow of inflation, similar to elevated youngster help and one-off funds to susceptible teams.

In the meantime, the conservative-Inexperienced governing coalition has not mentioned or made any transfer to cut back VAT charges. The Social Democrat opposition celebration SPÖ, nevertheless, has referred to as for the step.

In a three-point motion plan to battle meals inflation revealed in December, the celebration referred to as to scrap VAT on fundamental foodstuffs.

The proposed measures embody a nationwide fuel value cap that may assist ease value pressures on meals which are energy-intensive to provide, similar to butter. Lastly, the SPÖ proposes that the nationwide competitors authority ought to crack down extra strongly on any potential profiteering.

Whereas the federal government “stands idly by and watches costs explode, the SPÖ has offered a concrete plan to battle meals inflation,” the celebration’s federal chairman, Christian Deutsch, mentioned in December.

He added that “meals can’t be a luxurious in Austria.” (Julia Dahm |


Zero VAT on meals. Meals in Poland has lately develop into exceptionally costly, as has meals in all the EU.

The merchandise which have develop into costliest embody, amongst others, greens, sugar, fat and bread, the value of which is rising sharply as a result of, amongst different issues, excessive electrical energy costs.

Initially of January this yr, the Central Statistical Workplace (GUS) reported that meals costs had elevated by 21.5% in comparison with December 2021.

Initially of 2022, the Polish authorities launched the so-called ‘Anti-inflationary Defend’, consisting of a discount in VAT on probably the most key merchandise and utilities, for instance, electrical energy, gas and meals.

The aid is not in drive as of 2023, aside from a full discount in VAT on meals – Poles will nonetheless be capable to get pleasure from tax-free meals till 30 June 2023.

Specialists at Crédit Agricole financial institution level out that, in the long term, the anti-inflation protect might negatively have an effect on meals costs.

The VAT discount, whereas serving to the Polish authorities to decrease costs in 2022, is in the end anticipated to result in a 1.6% enhance in meals costs in comparison with a situation whereby the tax was not diminished.

Poles are unlikely to take to the streets in protest towards overpricing and excessive costs, however financial points and the battle towards inflation have develop into crucial social matters for them forward of the upcoming parliamentary elections within the Autumn. (


Meals costs hit file highs in 2022. On the subject of meals value hikes, sugar had the best enhance, with an increase of 62%, whereas oil and potato reached 40%, in keeping with the Nationwide Institute of Statistics (INS). 

The annual inflation charge grew 16.4% in December 2022 in comparison with the earlier yr, considerably impacting Romanians’ buying selections and the standard of the bought objects.

And the retailers have handed this burden onto customers the burden on a majority of meals objects. 

The recommendation of the European Fee in lowering VAT on fundamental merchandise didn’t make inroads within the Romanian legislative framework largely as a result of diminished charges of 9% and 5% – respectively, for a collection of products and providers, together with medicines and meals – have already been in place.

Finance Minister Adrian Câciu mentioned {that a} resolution to cut back inflation consisted moderately of structural measures than tax cuts.

“If the Nationwide Financial institution says that 80% of inflation is created by vitality costs, then it’s a must to take structural motion on vitality,” the minister mentioned.

Behind the official assertion, Romania can not afford much less revenue from consumption tax as it’s below extreme budgetary constraints. Its deficit exceeds 3% of GDP as imposed by European requirements, and must undertake supplementary measures to maintain it in step with the EU necessities. 

Regardless of repeated guarantees of a greater system to gather public cash, a 3rd of the VAT state revenues are nonetheless on paper, as it isn’t really collected.

Within the vitality discipline, which impacts the meals costs, the Romanian authorities launched the taxation of super-profits of vitality corporations, as per Council rules, and supported the sector value with a 50 bani compensation (€0.10) /litre in 2022.

It additionally issued social ‘Help for Romania’ vouchers for these liable to poverty of 250 lei, or €50.82, provided each two months for meals. (Manuela Preoteasa |


Zero VAT on bread didn’t assist in Bulgaria. Within the final two months of 2022, inflation in Bulgaria froze at 16.9%, with the information displaying that the principle cause is expounded to meals merchandise.

The EU’s poorest nation isn’t any completely different from Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic republics relating to rising meals costs. In keeping with the State Fee for Commodity Exchanges and Markets, meals costs in Bulgaria have risen by 52% within the final two years. 

These information measure the wholesale costs of fundamental meals and meals merchandise for Bulgarians, similar to kashkaval (typical Bulgarian yellow cheese), white brine cheese, pork and rooster meat, flour, greens and others. The info clearly exhibits that the value enhance began on the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Initially of 2022, Bulgaria launched 0% VAT for less than bread and flour, however this didn’t cut back their costs in grocery shops.

In the meantime, neither the state subsidies for electrical energy and fuel nor the end-of-year discount in petroleum gas costs impacted the value. Thus, the preliminary nice want of populist events to cut back VAT on meals was thwarted.

In December 2022, the associations of Bulgarian meals and beverage producers demanded that VAT be diminished from 20 to 9% for all meals and beverage merchandise 

The rise in meals costs is as a result of enhance within the value of uncooked supplies, disrupted provide chains, and elevated costs of fertilisers and feed, and for that reason, among the sectors have a major drop in turnover, as said by the meals and beverage affiliation in December after a gathering with the Minister of Economic system. 

Nonetheless, client organisations accuse producers and retail chains of producing excessive income on the expense of residents.

In keeping with information from the e-newsletter of the European commerce affiliation, client costs of meals merchandise in Bulgaria rose by 26% in September and October alone, in keeping with Yana Ivanova from the affiliation, who says that the anti-inflationary measure is 9%. VAT will lead to a declaration of the actual turnover of merchants and cost of all taxes. (Krasen Nikolov |


Help for households, however no discount of VAT. The rise of meals costs in Greece has been vital, particularly since September 2022. 

In keeping with the final month-to-month report of the Hellenic Statistical Service on the speed of value inflation in December, will increase in meals costs, typically, have been recorded at a charge of 15.5%.

Extra particularly, a rise of 25.6% is recorded in dairy merchandise, 18.1% in bread and cereals, 17.8% in meat, and 13.1% in greens. 

The Greek Authorities already launched a measure to regulate the consequences of inflation on meals costs, with one other one anticipated to begin in February.

The primary measure is the “buying basket”, an initiative by the ministry of improvement and investments along with some massive grocery store chains.

This so-called basket consists of a number of labels of foodstuffs and merchandise whose costs are fashioned each month with out the affect of inflation. Thus, revaluations of the merchandise included within the basket have been prevented since November, but meals costs proceed to be extraordinarily excessive in comparison with Greek customers’ affordability.

There have additionally been some makes an attempt to broaden the basket to incorporate extra labels of foodstuffs.

The second governmental measure is the so-called ‘Market Move’, which can be offered within the type of allowance to customers. This can cowl 10% of every family’s month-to-month grocery store bills distributed in keeping with particular standards, e.g. the variety of family members.

So far as the VAT charges on foodstuffs, the Authorities spokesman Yannis Economou rejected any chance of lowering them two weeks in the past, stating that “the €3.5 billion deficit we might have if VAT have been diminished on sure items, as in Spain, would put us in higher adventures”, that’s the deficit that may consequence must be lined and that this could imply “taxes and burdens for the entire society”. (Marianthi Pelekanaki |

[Edited by Natasha Foote/Gerardo Fortuna/Alice Taylor]

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