Inflation falls but food prices remain high. Istat surveys, May 2020


Inflation falls, but food prices remain high. Istat (National Statistical Institute’s findings on consumer prices in Italy in May 2020.

Consumer prices, record low

The decline in inflation recorded in Italy in May 2020 reaches the lowest level in 4 years (October 2016). -0.2%, on a monthly and annual basis.

The decline in the overall consumer price index is blamed on the sharp drop in oil prices and so in unregulated energy goods (motor vehicle fuels and cylinder gas, -7.6 percent to /12.2 percent). In fact, excluding this item, inflation grows by 1 percent, as does its underlying component (which excludes unprocessed food and energy goods, +0.8 percent).

Food prices still rising

However, food prices in Italy, like those of household and personal care products, are still up (+2.4 percent in May, just a tenth of a point less than in April). In contrast to the overall consumer price index, but also in relation to the decline in food prices found by FAO globally.

The price increases affected all staple and long-life foods used for stockpiling. Also as a result of the surge in household food consumption caused by zero meals out during the lockdown.

According to a study by Coldiretti, the increases are broken down as follows:

– fruit (+7.9%),

– vegetables (+5.3 percent),

– frozen fish (+5%),

– cured meats (+3.7 percent),

– milk and pasta (+3.5 percent),

– meat (+2.7 percent).

– cheeses (+2.4 percent),

– mineral water (2.3%)

– sugar (+2.2 percent),

– butter (+2.1%).

From the fields to the shopping cart

The abnormal living condition imposed by the new coronavirus has hit agricultural production under the radar, fostering downward speculation in the fields and stables by cutting compensation paid to farmers and ranchers, from vegetables to meat and milk. ‘The quotations paid to producers in many sectors no longer even cover their costs and put the national food system at risk‘, reports Coldiretti, according to which nearly 4 out of 10 farms (37 percent) are experiencing a marked decline in activity.

Exacerbating the scenario was the spring weather. First frost that compromised the blooms, then scorching heat and drought, and finally windstorms and hail. The result is plummeting crops, from peaches to nectarines (-28 percent), apricots (-58 percent) and cherries. With extensive damage in vineyards and fields of vegetables, corn, tomato, tobacco.

It is legitimate to wait for the Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza e il Mercato, AGCM) to activate investigations for the existence of any unfair business practices, in violation of Article 62 of Law 27/12, or other practices distorting competition.

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".