|www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english||print | close window|
Food still expensive in Finland by European standards
Cost of eating, drinking, and smoking is 22 percent above EU average
The cost of eating remains high in Finland compared with the rest of Europe. According to a study conducted in the spring of 2003, the consumer prices of food, beverages, and cigarettes in Finland were around 22 percent higher than in the EU on average. Alcoholic drinks were not included in the comparison.
The prices of fish, milk, cheese, and eggs in Finland are closest to the EU average. Vegetables, on the other hand, are clearly more expensive.
When compared with the rest of the Nordic countries, Finland holds it own. In Norway and Iceland, food is up to 30 percent dearer than in Finland. Even the Danish pay clearly more for their daily groceries. In Sweden, the price of food is on a par with Finland.
When collating statistical data, one must keep in mind that in Finland a 17-percent VAT adds to the price of food. In the old EU member states the average VAT for food is about seven percent. Of the new members, Malta, for one, has been allowed to carry on with zero VAT for foodstuffs until 2010.
Finland's higher than average VAT weakens the competitiveness of the domestic foodstuffs production chain as a whole.
In Germany, food is 15 percentage points cheaper than in Finland, while the VAT percentage there is 7 against Finland's 17. Germany's location in the heart of Europe also means shorter haulage distances. Furthermore, shopping at bargain stores is very much a German craze.
Last year, the price of food in Finland went up by 0.7 percent on average.
The average price levels in the EU plummeted in May, when the new member states joined in. Apart from Cyprus, the price levels in all these countries are well below the European average.
The ten cheapest countries in Europe, with price levels 50-70 percent of the EU average, are Estonia, Turkey, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Lithuania and Poland, plus the cheapest of them all, the non-EU members Romania and Bulgaria.
The price comparison study was conducted by the EU's statistical analysis agency Eurostat.