How high prices affect the diet of Spaniards

by Lorraine Williamson
diet of Spaniards
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MADRID – The unstoppable rise in food prices in Spain is reflected in the shopping basket and the diet of the Spaniards. Households are adjusting their eating habits to this increase. How? 

They eat less meat, less fish, fewer eggs and less bread. Only two products were more consumed: wine with a Protected Geographical Indication (D.O.) and all oils except olive oil and sunflower oil. 

These conclusions come from the latest report of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from July. The largest decrease can be seen in meat products. Consumption of this decreased by more than 16% last July compared to July 2021. 

The purchase of fish also fell by 14%, bread by 9.4% and eggs by 8.5%. In total, the Spaniards ate 8.8% fewer food products, although they only managed to reduce their expenditure by 5.1%. 

The products with the largest decrease in consumption were: 

  • Sunflower oil -19%. From 165.9 million litres in July 2021, it went up to 134.4 million litres in July 2022. 
  • Sheep/goat meat -27.1%. From 60.5 million kilos in July 2021, it went up to 44.1 million kilos in July 2022. 
  • Beef -18%. From 233.9 million kilos in July 2021 to 191.9 million kilos in July 2022. 
  • Fish -15.7%. From 582.6 million kilos in July 2021, it went to 491.2 million kilos in July 2022. 
  • Other milk types -15.1%. From 30.3 million litres in July 2021, it consumed 25.7 million litres in July 2022. 
  • Sugar -15.4%. From 152.9 million kilograms in July 2021, it increased to 129.3 million kilograms in July 2022. 
  • Olive oil -10.2%. From 380.7 million litres in July 2021, it went up to 341.9 million litres in July 2022. 
  • Eggs -10.7%. It went from 420.5 million kilos in July 2021, to 375.4 million kilos in July 2022. 
  • Bread -7.4%. From 1,430.8 million kilograms in July 2021, it continued with 1,324.5 million kilograms in July 2022. 

The largest decrease, in percentage, was seen in sparkling wines, -28.4%. It went from 2.1 million litres to 1.5. In return, the consumption of wines with a Protected Geographical Indication increased by 1.7%. It went from 25.7 million litres in July 2021 to 26.2 million litres. Consumption of other oils (neither sunflower nor olive) also increased, such as linseed or coconut oil, whose consumption increased by 10%, from 17.6 million litres to 19.4. 

nederlandse orthopeed

Fewer purchases, but more expensive 

There are also changes in consumption habits that are not always reflected in the purchase receipt, such as a reduction in the number of kilograms or litres purchased. For example, the Spaniards ate 45.1 million kilos fewer eggs but paid €17 million more for them. The same happens with milk, consumption decreased by -6.4%, but the value development increased by 2.2%. And it also happens with: 

  • Pastries, pastries, cookies and cereals 
  • Chocolate and cocoa 
  • Coffee and tea 
  • Rice 
  • Pasta 
  • Olive oil and sunflower oil 
  • Processed potatoes 
  • Ready-made meals 
  • soft drinks 

Products that Spaniards have consumed in smaller quantities, but for which they have paid more than in July 2021. According to Rubén Sánchez, head of consumer organization Facua, people with less purchasing power refrain from buying the same amount of food as before or from more expensive products. They change eating habits, for example replacing fish and certain meats with other cheaper products that may be less nutritious and may contain higher carbohydrates. 

Sánchez: “Who used to eat fish with rice, now eat rice with a little fish or even remove fish from the diet. All this means that the economic damage caused by these price increases results in a poorer diet and a negative effect on our health. People are replacing essential products with products whose nutritional contribution is not as typical of the Mediterranean diet. Products that often have an excess of carbohydrates or saturated fats. If this takes a long time, it can affect the health system later and increase health expenditure, says the expert in the newspaper NIUS. 

The recommendations of consumer organisations 

In this sense, the OCU recommends buying private-label products and shopping at the cheapest supermarkets. “By choosing the place where the purchase is made, very relevant savings can be achieved: about €1,000 on average per year, in some cities more than €3,500. 

€830 more on average in annual food expenditure 

According to calculations by OCU, families will have to deal with an additional cost of more than €830 in annual food expenditure this year. Moreover, there is no indication that the situation will change in the short term. Consumer organisations do not exclude that the prices of some products will rise even further in the coming months. 

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