Food, Other consumption: inflation does not stop but some products drop

The Covid 19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have had a heavy impact, generating negative effects, including the growth of inflation in various product sectors. As confirmed by the latest Istat surveys, in fact, the increase in consumer prices reached 8.9% on an annual basis in September. The situation is well photographed by the analysis that Altroconsumo periodically conducts on the prices of food goods, analyzing ten types of products in different points of sale.

Under the lens of Altroconsumo, the prices of pasta, flour, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, sugar, coffee powder, long-life milk and tomato puree, with the addition of zucchini and bananas. The results show that, compared to the average prices recorded in September 2021, for all 10 product categories there are significant increases of between 7% and 61%. Compared to the previous month (August), however, there are signs of stability and even price reduction: in particular the cost of flour (-1%), pasta (-1%) and extra virgin olive oil (-2%) , but above all coffee (-6%) and sunflower oil (-5% compared to August, -11% compared to May). For courgettes and bananas, a comparison was maintained over the year, because the effect of the seasonality of these products makes the comparison between different months and seasons of little relevance.

Altroconsumo wanted to compare the cost of a hypothetical expense, consisting of monitored food products, made today with the cost of the same expense made a year ago. If we would have spent an average of € 20.16 (September 2021) for all the products surveyed a year ago, today we would spend a total of € 24.19 (+ € 4.03). The increase was 20%. Specifically, the cost of each item has undergone a considerable variation, starting with sunflower oil: + 61% in one year. Just think that between March and April 2022 alone, the increase was 36% and prices continued to increase until June. Only during the summer, there was a first hint of stability and between August and September 2022 the average price of sunflower oil fell by 5%; compared to before the summer (May 2022) the reduction was 11%.

The price of 00 flour has grown considerably: + 37% compared to September 2021. The cost has risen between May 2021 and January 2022, registering a + 18%. Between January and May 2022, prices increased further (+ 13%). From May to today, growth has progressed but at a slower pace: + 6%. The price of pasta has undergone an increase of + 26% in one year, but in the last month the price has fallen slightly: -1%. Despite the increase of + 15% compared to last year, in the last month extra virgin olive oil has slightly decreased (-2%).

The cost of beet sugar is growing: between September 2021 and September 2022 the average price increased by 24%. The increases began in summer 2021 and intensified during summer 2022. The increase in September was also significant (+ 4%). Ground coffee recorded an increase of + 7% in one year: the growth reached its level in July 2022 (where the price reaches 7.05 euros per kilo). In the last two months, however, there has been a marked decline.

As far as UHT milk is concerned, for several months there have been significant increases in the retail price announced by the increases in prices at origin (farm-gate milk prices) both in Italy and abroad, also caused by the increase in the costs of feed and those of energy. In the last month, + 3% was recorded between August and September 2022, + 17% compared to before the summer (May 2022) and + 26% compared to a year ago. Tomato puree is one of the products that later underwent price increases that had already affected other products, but now the increases are there: + 3% compared to August 2022; + 9% compared to before the summer (May 2022) and + 15% compared to last year.

Although the price of courgettes is strongly influenced by seasonality, the prices of September can be compared with the prices of the same month a year ago and there is an increase of 33%. Until the beginning of the year, the cost of bananas had not increased significantly, despite the fact that it is a fruit that comes from afar and on which tensions on the transport front and fuel increases could have affected. From the first months of 2021, however, the increases have begun and compared to 2021, there is still a growth of 11%.

In order to guide consumers in the best purchase choice, Altroconsumo advises at this stage to focus on discount stores and to prefer promotional and commercial brand products. In fact, considering an expense consisting of 8 of the 10 products under observation and excluding fruit and vegetables, the average price is compared with the average price of the products in promotion, of the discount items and of the commercial brand items. The result of the survey is that all 3 of the proposed saving possibilities seem valid. If we buy all 8 promotional shopping products, we spend an average of € 18.73, or 6% less than the average of the products. Even if we buy entirely commercial brand items, we spend € 18.38 (-8%).

Finally, an average of € 17.73 is spent at discounters, or 11% less. Spending in this type of store continues to be the cheapest, even if it recorded the highest increases compared to Iper and Super. In fact, if we look at the average of discount prices in the 8 categories considered, between summer 2021 and summer 2022 discount prices increased by 25%, while those of hypermarkets and supermarkets increased by 20-21%. In spite of this, the purchase at the discount points of sale still allows a good saving for the Italians’ wallet.