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Hungary Among the Cheapest EU Countries for Food Prices

Hungary Today 2023.08.16.

Eurostat has published a detailed study on food prices in Europe. It reveals that Hungary has one of the lowest prices on the continent, and the cheapest alcohol, writes Világgazdaság.

There has been much talk recently about the rate at which food prices are rising in Hungary due to inflation. However, less has been said about the fact that the dramatic rise in food prices is not unique to Hungary, as most European countries are facing similar problems. Eurostat released a study in the summer comparing the prices of food, beverages and tobacco in Europe, giving a snapshot of how retail prices for these product categories evolved in 2022.

The study was very extensive, comparing prices in 36 countries: the 27 EU member states, three European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland) and six candidate countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey).

A comparison of prices in these countries shows that Hungary ranks 9th cheapest out of 36 countries in the price index for food and non-alcoholic beverages, at 90 percent of the EU average.

The lowest prices were found in Turkey, where prices were just 64 percent of the EU level in 2022. Switzerland is the most expensive in this ranking, with residents of the Alpine country able to buy food and non-alcoholic drinks at 163 percent of the EU average. Romania and Poland are cheaper than Hungary in the region, but the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia are more expensive. The latter three are above the EU average, as are Germany and Austria.

Photo: Eurostat

However, Switzerland was already known to be one of the most expensive countries, so its ranking is not surprising. Moreover, the Eurostat study does not mention the extent of the increase in food prices in each country over the last 1.5 years, which would probably nuance the Hungarian rankings.

Countries where people earn higher wages, have a higher standard of living and, as a result, goods are generally more expensive, are hence typically ahead of Hungary in the ranking. In these countries, even with inflation, food prices have probably not increased as greatly as they have in our country. In Switzerland, for example, the annual inflation rate was 1.6 percent in July 2023. Meanwhile, Hungary had the highest inflation in the European Union in May with a rate of 21.9 percent, according to Eurostat. Inflation in Hungary since slowed to 17.6 percent in July, however, on a monthly basis, consumer prices rose again from June to July, by 0.3 percent on average.The government plans to bring inflation below 10 percent by the end of the year, but it is not yet certain whether this is achievable.

Eurostat also shows that Hungary is the cheapest place to buy alcohol, with prices around 18 percent lower than the EU average in 2022. The peak is Iceland, at 297.4 percent.

Nor can consumers complain about the price of Hungarian tobacco products, which is 76.2 percent of the EU average. This is also favorable, but far from the best: in Turkey, retailers charge only 26.2 percent of the EU average for tobacco products. Ireland is at the other extreme, with prices at 260 percent.

The hefty analysis also provides data broken down by food category. Although the picture is more nuanced, Hungary remains one of the lowest-priced countries.

Compared to the EU average, bread is available at 90 percent of the EU average price, meat at 72.9 percent and fish at 88.6 percent in Hungarian shops.

For comparison, in Switzerland (where it is the most expensive) it is 164.1, 233 and 182.6 percent respectively. In Turkey (where it is the cheapest) it is 59.6, 53 and 58.9 percent. However, in the milk-cheese-egg category, for example, Hungarian prices are above the EU average, at 107 percent last year. The situation is similar for oils (112.1 percent), where Hungary is also more expensive than the European level. In return, vegetables and fruit are 8 percent cheaper. Norway is the most expensive place to buy them, with prices at 153.6 percent of the EU level. Turkey, on the other hand, is the cheapest at 52.4 percent compared to the EU numbers.

Are Groceries Cheaper in Neighboring Countries?
Are Groceries Cheaper in Neighboring Countries?

Shopping in Romania, Slovakia, or Croatia is no longer costing significantly less than in Hungary.Continue reading

Featured photo via Pixabay

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