SHARE
COPY LINK

ECONOMY

Increasing food prices put Spaniards at risk of poor nutrition

The skyrocketing prices of basic foods are putting Spaniards at risk of poor nutrition and increasing the use of food banks.

Increasing food prices put Spaniards at risk of poor nutrition
Photo: Pixabay.

The effects of Spain’s rampant inflation and upwards price pressures on food are having an impact not only on Spaniards bank accounts, but their health too.

In Spain, supermarket prices have skyrocketed in recent months. The price of a melon, for example, recently topped €13, an increase so extreme that it highlights the nutritional quality of poorer Spaniards’ lives during times of economic hardship, and how they can be priced out of healthy, nutritious goods.

According to Spain’s national statistics body, the INE, in June of this year the prices of 46 household products were more expensive and above the overall Consumer Price Index (the rate used to calculate inflation, known as CPI) of 10.2 percent.

But in times of economic crisis, rising shopping basket prices can also effect the quality of nutrition people are able to access, and this is especially true in lower income families.

READ ALSO: Spain’s July inflation rate reaches new 38-year high

Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) suggest that food prices have reached their highest level since 1990.

The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) warned in July of a 15.2 percent price increase in the price of food shopping in a year. OCU figures also point to a 52.6 percent increase in olive oil prices and a rise of 12.4 percent for fruit and vegetables.

Spaniards across the country are being priced out of balanced, healthy diets and surviving on a deficit of fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil – staples of the much famed Mediterranean diet – and types of the food products that have increased in price.

The rising price of staple foods can end up causing consumers to look to “low quality, cheap and appetite-relied” products, Professor of Nutrition at the Complutense University of Madrid, Jesús Román, told the Spanish press last week.

READ MORE: Rising inflation in Spain: Six cost-cutting ways to fight it

Rising prices, he says, forces poorer income families to “opt for cheaper foods that are usually of lower quality, restricting those that are healthier.”

Unable to afford to eat healthily, many Spaniards are now forced to opt for cheaper and unhealthier alternatives. The consequences are clear, particularly on children who can’t access a nutritional diet during their developmental years.

In a Report on Childhood Obesity in Spain put together by supermarket chain Eroski, they concluded that childhood obesity is “a form of excessive malnutrition that, in many cases, also continues in adulthood.”

Research by the International University of Valencia (VIU) indicates that in the decade between 2011 and 2021 the percentage of overweight children in Spain increased to almost 40 percent. Among adolescents, that figure is 30 percent.

The Spanish government recently introduced the National Strategic Plan for the Reduction of Childhood Obesity with the aim of reducing obesity rates by 25 percent over the next decade.

Spain is one of the EU’s member states with the highest correlation between the risk of child poverty and obesity, and with rising food prices making a healthier, balanced diet more expensive and difficult to access, the combination of post-pandemic economic recovery and record inflationary pressures on food prices could push more into poverty.

Data published last May by the Spanish Federation of Food Banks (Fesbal) shows that in 2022, 20 percent more Spaniards will visit and rely on food banks than in 2021.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TAX

Spain to tax the rich to offset inflation relief measures

Spain's left-wing government has said that from 2023 it will slap a temporary tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of the population to help pay for inflation relief measures.

Spain to tax the rich to offset inflation relief measures

Tax Minister María Jesús Montero told La Sexta television channel it is important that “we can finance the aid” put in place to support “the middle class and workers”.

To this end, the government will impose an “exceptional” tax on Spain’s “big fortunes”, she said.

The tax will last for two years and affect “no more than one percent” of the population, Montero said.

“When we talk about rich people, we are talking about millionaires,” she added.

The minister did not provide details on what the tax rate would be or how much it would raise.

The announcement comes just days after Andalusia’s regional government decided to scrap its wealth tax for residents and non-resident homeowners with worldwide assets above €700,000, in a bid to attract higher earners to the southern region.

This has sparked a debate in Spain over whether it is fair for some regions (those governed by the right-wing Popular Party to be exact) to offer better tax conditions than others and then ask for an equal or bigger slice of the pie from the national state budget. 

Montero has accused regions such as Madrid, which has long been the region with the lowest taxes in Spain, of carrying out unfair fiscal competition, what’s referred to in Spain as ‘tax dumping’.

READ MORE: Why you should move to Madrid if you want to pay less tax

Spain’s leftist government in July introduced a draft bill to create a temporary tax on banks and power utilities to fund measures to ease cost-of-living pressures.

Spain is battling a surge in inflation as a result of the fallout from the war in Ukraine and the reopening of the economy after pandemic-related lockdowns.

The annual inflation rate hit 10.4 percent in August. It has remained in double digits since June, a level not seen since the mid-1980s.

The Spanish government has introduced a raft of measures to help people cope with soaring prices, such as free public transport, stipends for students to stay in school and subsidised petrol.

It says the measures amount to €30 billion  ($30 billion), or 2.3 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product.

SHOW COMMENTS