ECONOMY

Year-end prices soaring

Price hikes of up to an incredible 53 percent have been recorded since the start of the year to date on basic food products, including primarily cheese, milk, bread and pasta, the price of which has risen three or four times within a single year. But the worst may not be over yet, considering the upward-moving inflation rate, with fears of exceeding even the 4.0 percent mark – with whatever repercussions this may entail. Trying to explain this wave of price increases, Development Minister Christos Folias spoke of external factors and certain other market «contortions» pushing prices higher. The minister added that efforts are being made to place «a barrier on costliness.» An ongoing battle against the high cost of living, said Folias, «may be won if we all realize that consumers’ benefit is also to the benefit of retailers.» Despite efforts to keep prices at reasonable levels, one business after another continues to put out new price lists, preparing to dearly welcome in the new year, with the price hikes announced so far ranging from 5.4 percent to 10 percent. In addition, the president of the Bakers’ Federation, Michalis Mousios, has expressed concerns over further increases in the price of flour, which has so far skyrocketed from 36 euros cents per kilogram to more than 70 euro cents a kilogram. Such a likelihood would trigger further price increases in bread and related flour-based products. Since the start of 2007, price hikes on cheese have ranged from 4.08 percent (on feta) to 53.3 percent (on gouda). Gouda cheese, in particular, has seen its price rise on nine separate instances, from 4.24 euros per kilogram to 6.50 per kilogram. Commenting on the above situation, retail representatives said «without any exaggeration, each new order arrives with a new price.» Fresh milk has surged a total of 14.16 percent since 2004. Consumers in 2007 witnessed pasta prices jump three separate times, from 0.67 to 0.87, or an increase of 29.8 percent.