Greek consumers changing habits

Greece’s consumer price index (CPI) was partly edged higher by watermelons in July but pressure is expected to ease this month due to a drop in the price of potatoes. The National Statistics Service (NSS) last year revised the weightings of the various items comprising the consumer «basket,» after finding significant changes in the country’s consumption habits. According to the survey and the revised index of 2005, fruit and vegetables now have a higher weighting than fuels or mobile telephony services. Indeed, it reflects Greeks’ turn towards foods with a lower fat content and increased spending on health and attire. In the foodstuffs category, which takes up 17.10 percent of all consumption expenses, the NSS survey found that meat accounts for 22.08 percent, fish for 8.27 percent, dairy products and eggs for 18.40 percent, fruit for 7.65 percent, oils and fats for 5.50 percent and vegetables for 11.55 percent, while the remaining 25 percent is taken up by expenses on flour, bread and cereals (13.13 percent), non-alcoholic drinks (3.91 percent), pastry goods (6.46 percent) and other foodstuffs (1.35 percent). More dairy In comparison with the previous survey of 1998-99, Greeks were now found to consume fewer cereals and bread, fish, fruit, vegetables and meat, and more dairy products, eggs, oils and fats, mineral water, refreshments and fruit juices. Compared with 1974, Greeks now consume 48 percent more yogurt, 37 percent more meat, 30.6 percent more cheese, 28.6 percent more fresh milk, 21 percent more fish, 20.7 percent more pasta and 17.3 percent more olive oil. In contrast, the consumption of eggs has fallen 114.3 percent, of bread 59.3 percent, of sugar 56.1 percent, of legumes 20 percent, of fruit 13.6 percent, and of rice 12.9 percent. According to NSS, groups which diverge most from the general consumption model are single people aged over 65, who spend the greatest part of their income on meat, and households with one parent and one or two children, for whom rent is the biggest expense. On average, households spend 1,792.28 euros a month. NSS notes that between 1999 and 2004 there was a shift of spending from foodstuffs, clothing and footwear, and durable and other consumer goods to the other, particularly communications. Spending on health services rose from 4.75 percent of the total in 1974 to 7.15 percent in 2004. Greece’s CPI was up 3.4 percent last month, the third-highest rise in the eurozone, where the average was 2.5 percent. Increased watermelon exports partly accounted for relatively higher prices.