First the corona pandemic, then the Ukraine war: Prices in Germany have been rising for months – for practically all products. Customers notice this particularly clearly when they go shopping in the supermarket or discounter every day. Be it sausage, cheese or pasta, the prices are significantly higher than they were a year ago. The consumer organization "Foodwatch" has now determined in an analysis that the increased food prices primarily affect those who already have to watch their money. Because the actually cheaper own brands have recorded the biggest price jumps.
Whether at Rewe, Lidl, Edeka or Aldi: everyday groceries have become significantly more expensive. According to the Foodwatch analysis, the chains have increased the prices of almost 70 percent of all their products over the past year. To determine this, the organization evaluated the prices using the "Smhaggle" app.
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According to the analysis, the prices of own brands rose by an average of 30.9 percent between January 2022 and January 2023 - twice as much as those of the originally more expensive branded products (14 percent). The head of the retail chain Rewe recently explained this in the "Spiegel" with the fact that branded products have a higher profit margin and own brands have to pass on price increases directly to the consumer.
A particularly problematic aspect of this is that many own-brand staple foods even had a premium of up to 75 percent. In practical terms, this means that an exemplary shopping basket with everyday groceries, such as pasta, rice, minced meat or tomato paste, has increased in price by 32.6 percent within a year - from around 45 euros to just under 60 euros. Fresh items such as fruit and vegetables were even excluded.
Foodwatch emphasizes that the increase in the price of own brands harbors several dangers for people affected by poverty: On the one hand, it poses a health risk because many people can no longer afford healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables. This is particularly dangerous for children, since people affected by poverty often turn to high-calorie foods because they fill you up and are often relatively cheap. Already, more poor children suffer from obesity than wealthy children. At the same time, they often lacked important micronutrients that led to delayed growth and cognitive development disorders.
Another dangerous aspect of rising food prices is the general food poverty in Germany. By the end of 2021, around 12.5 million people in Germany were at least temporarily affected by food poverty. The increased prices would have exacerbated this situation significantly. As early as January, the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) announced that the Hartz IV recipients at the time had de facto slipped below the subsistence level due to inflation in 2022. (The star reported).
Foodwatch also fears a similar development. The consumer organization is therefore calling on the federal government to increase the standard rate of citizen income: "The standard rate must be calculated in such a way that a healthy and filling diet is equally possible for all adults and children. The Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband, for example, calls for the standard rate of basic security to be at least raise 725 euros."
In addition, free lunches should be offered in schools and daycare centers and VAT on fruit, vegetables and legumes should be reduced to zero in order to make healthy eating as cheap as possible, Foodwatch continues.
"Precisely those products on which the lowest-income segment of the population is most dependent have risen much more in price than the rest of the food market. Anyone who previously had to calculate carefully and turn over every cent has now been hit particularly hard: by a hidden, particularly drastic price increases for private labels in supermarkets," explained the consumer organization.
Source: Foodwatch analysis, Der Spiegel