Wednesday

12th May 2021

Europe's food prices up twice the inflation rate

Food prices in the European Union climbed at almost twice the rate of inflation over the past year, according to official EU figures released Monday (2 June).

Eurostat, the EU's statistical body, said that food prices had risen on average by 7.1 percent, across the 27-nation bloc from April to April while the overall inflation rate was 3.6 percent.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Member states in eastern Europe, among the poorest in the bloc, have been the hardest hit by the price rises.

Bulgaria saw a 25.4 percent increase in prices, while Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania all saw hikes of 18-22 percent.

Meanwhile Portugal saw the lowest annual food inflation at 3.2 percent, followed by the Netherlands (5.4%) and France (5.5%).

The figures, published on the eve of a United Nations food summit in Rome, surveyed nine food categories and showed that dairy products in the EU were 14.9 percent more expensive, while cooking oils and fats prices rose by 13.2 percent.

By contrast, the previous year's statistics recorded a 1.5 percent rise in the annual price of milk, cheese and eggs in Europe, while oils and fats saw an average price reduction of three percent.

Not all categories registered such a price hike last year. Fish and seafood clocked in a price rise of 3.3 percent while vegetable prices actually fell by 1.2 percent.

Food summit in Rome

Food prices have topped the political agenda around the world since earlier this year when rioting broke out in developing nations as people could no longer afford to put a bare minimum of food for their tables.

Experts suggest the phenomenon has been the combined result of poor harvests, rocketing fuel prices and a rise in demand from large emerging economies such as India and China.

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in Rome, which is host to the food summit starting Tuesday, last week said that 22 countries, mainly in Africa, are especially vulnerable to the rising food prices.

Director-general Jacques Diouf of FAO last month said the long-scheduled meeting had turned the summit into an emergency meeting while the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, said the crisis has put back poverty reduction efforts by seven years.

Biofuels

Within the European Union itself, a further debate has been raging about the possible impact of its biofuel targets on food prices.

In Spring last year, EU leaders agreed that by 2020, the bloc should aim to have biofuels account for 10 percent of transport energy as part of a larger legislative package aimed at combating global warming.

Since then, biofuels have moved from being viewed as a positive contributor in the fight against climate change to something close to a pariah, with international experts, including from the UN, suggesting they may be contributing to the food crisis as increased demand for fuel pushes up prices.

An FAO report released last week concluded that the "benefits of biofuels production based on agricultural commodity feed stocks are at best modest, and sometimes even negative" while the International Monetary Fund has suggested that increasing demand for biofuels explains "20 to 30 per cent" of recent food price increases.

The EU, as a whole, has so far stuck to the target, although there have been dissenting voices from individual member states such as the UK.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.

Investigation

Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

News in Brief

  1. Israeli rockets kill 20 people in Gaza retaliation
  2. No more EU expulsions likely over Russia bomb attacks
  3. EU ready to ignore Hungary veto on Hong Kong
  4. Borrell admits EU neglect of Western Balkans
  5. Macron accused of 'cowardice and deceit' in military letter
  6. EU citizens in UK applying for settled status face legal limbo
  7. Netherlands gives €2bn to offshore carbon storage project
  8. Germany will allow Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all ages

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Russia penetrated Merkel's 'inner circle', Khodorkovsky says
  2. First recovery euros could be paid out in July
  3. Commission wants help for Italy after weekend's migrant arrivals
  4. Mercosur trade deal will fuel 'poison pesticides' back into EU
  5. Can new Iran talks avoid mistakes of the original JCPOA?
  6. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  7. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  8. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us