Inflation: Does a scoop of ice cream really cost that much more these days?

Anyone who buys a scoop at the ice cream parlor today likes to draw a comparison to the past: back then it only cost 30 pfennigs! You quickly get the feeling that a portion for around 1.

Inflation: Does a scoop of ice cream really cost that much more these days?

Anyone who buys a scoop at the ice cream parlor today likes to draw a comparison to the past: back then it only cost 30 pfennigs! You quickly get the feeling that a portion for around 1.50 euros is a lot more of a strain on your wallet today than it was then for 30 pfennigs. Is that correct? An approximation:

In the mid-1980s, a scoop of ice cream cost 30 pfennigs in many places in western Germany. "Back then, ice cream was too cheap, they couldn't have made big business," says Gerhard Schenk, President of the German Confectioners' Association, looking back. The association is also responsible for homemade ice cream.

Today's prices, on the other hand, are calculated very harshly, explains master confectioner Schenk. In the meantime, a scoop of ice cream in big cities like Berlin or Munich costs around 2 euros. The nationwide average is 1.46 euros. This was the result of an ice cream parlor comparison in mid-2021. Is that more money than the amount some four decades ago?

The price of ice cream in purchasing power comparison

According to the Deutsche Bundesbank, the purchasing power of one D-Mark in 1985 is equivalent to one euro in 2022. That means: A scoop of ice cream for 30 pfennigs in 1985 would be worth 30 cents today. But that would only be a fifth of what a bullet cost on average in Germany in 2021.

Since ice cream scoops are often paid for in cash, price increases are particularly noticeable. Experts refer to this as "perceived inflation". In truth, several factors play a role.

Wages went up at the same time

According to the Federal Agency for Civic Education, consumer prices rose by 48.1 percent between 1991 and 2019. Because many things became more expensive, wages also rose during the period - on paper by 60.7 percent. This means that the purse is not as heavily burdened when buying ice cream as it appears at first glance.

One minute more work for the ice

A popular industrially produced popsicle - vanilla ice cream with a chocolate coating - usually costs 2.70 euros today. The German Economic Institute (IW) estimates that people in Germany will have to spend 7 minutes and 27 seconds at work this year. 33 years ago, the same ice cream cost about two Deutschmarks. According to IW information, 6 minutes and 19 seconds had to be worked for the purchase at the time. Thanks to rising net wages, people can afford more than they could 30 years ago, analyzes IW purchasing power expert Christoph Schröder and adds: "Nevertheless, you have to work longer for ice cream at the kiosk today than in 1990."

Ingredients in the ice cream drive up the price

In contrast to the freezer compartment in the supermarket, fresh products, if possible organic, play a greater role in the delicacies from the ice cream parlour. "The quality has increased significantly," reports Gerhard Schenk. And good ingredients cost money.

The ball from the ice cream parlor consists of up to 70 percent milk and almost ten percent cream, which in turn is made from milk, explains Uniteis, the association of Italian ice cream makers in Germany. "Does milk still taste like it did three years ago?" asks Uniteis spokeswoman Annalisa Carnio. Milk prices rose in 2022 as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Ice cream parlors through the ages

The work in the ice cream parlors has changed over time. In the past, the whole family would have worked for free, says Annalisa Carnio. Today there are not only higher costs due to the minimum wage and collective bargaining agreement. The rents for the shops have risen and recently the electricity costs, for example. "The idea that ice cream should be so dirt cheap is simply unrealistic," explains the spokeswoman for Uniteis.

Behind every ball of ice is bureaucracy, says Gerhard Schenk. The President of the Confectioners' Association speaks of "madness". Examples: The spatial requirements for making ice cream are immense. The temperature of an ice chest must be checked several times a day. Since everything has to be documented, it costs "time that has to be paid for," Schenk calculates.

The ice ball has also changed

Not only has the price increased, the balls have also gotten bigger and sometimes no longer round at all. A ball of ice today weighs 80 to 100 grams, explains Carnio. Gerhard Schenk confirms this: "A scoop of ice cream has to have a certain weight in order to be accepted on the market."

In the 1960s, on the other hand, a bullet weighing 25 to 30 grams was standard, says Carnio. These can "no longer be sold today," adds Schenk.

Added to this is the trend that ice cream is more often spatulaed or painted than rolled. The classic ice cream scoop is still in use in Germany, explains Carnio. According to her, the reason is the widespread need of Germans to continuously get the same amount for their money.

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