Chocolate letters, oliebollen and two lavish Christmas dinners. After the delight of December, January traditionally starts with good intentions: more sports and healthier food. Because the gyms are still closed for the time being, you have signed up for a digital sports class. Before leaving, have a smoothie of fresh fruit and yogurt from the newly purchased blender, then put on the new gym tights. Afterwards, a protein-rich meal awaits at home: chicken breast with rice and broccoli.
To what extent has such an afternoon sport become more expensive in recent months? The tables of the Central Bureau of Statistics provide the answer. Every month, the statistical office monitors the prices of 219 product groups, which together provide a picture of the overall price level. In this section, that generous shopping cart has been reduced to eight purchases: a sports subscription, the leggings, a blender and the ingredients for the smoothie and dinner.
As in the previous two episodes, this month’s section has one extreme outlier. In the shopping basket of November, the football night, it was the price of beer that had risen sharply compared to the summer, by almost 12 percent. In December’s Christmas shopping, the explosively increased fuel price – 13 percent higher – made the basket as a whole considerably more expensive. Unlike in previous months, the strongest increase is now a product group that everyone buys or consumes almost every day: broccoli and other fresh vegetables.
On average, vegetables have become 10.6 percent more expensive since May . To some extent, that’s not surprising. Vegetables are often more expensive in December than in May, according to the tables of Statistics Netherlands.
That wave movement has to do with the harvest. When vegetables become widely available towards the summer, the price will fall. As winter approaches, it rises again. Occasionally, prices also rise permanently, as can be seen in January 2019. This was because the VAT on fruit and vegetables was then increased from 6 to 9 percent.
The corona pandemic also affected the price of vegetables. This was very visible in April 2020, when countries closed in the first wave and importing foreign vegetables became more difficult and therefore much more expensive. Those higher prices lasted almost all year.
In 2021, the disruptions caused by corona will be less and the price will fall again in the summer months. But glasshouse horticulturists already foresee a new peak: their costs are rising quickly due to the extreme energy rates. This will be visible from October. Vegetables are now extremely expensive: only once in the last 25 years has the price level been so high.
Another climber in the shopping cart this month is yogurt. According to CBS figures, it has become 5 percent more expensive since the summer. The increase is partly due to the fact that less milk has been supplied throughout the year see figures from the ZuivelNL chain organization. At the same time, dairy farmers and the processing industry are seeing an increase in expenditure: energy is becoming more expensive, and the price for concentrates has increased, according to Wageningen University. up 14 percent in one year.
It is striking that the blender, on the other hand, has hardly become more expensive. According to CBS, the price of small household appliances has risen only 2.6 percent since the summer, despite an autumn full of news about the scarcity of chips, raw materials and container transport. Perhaps this is because price tags had already risen sharply in the first year of the pandemic, reaching the highest level in more than two decades.
The price of chicken fillet has also increased little compared to before the summer, and has actually been fairly constant since the start of the corona pandemic. In the long run, however, chicken has also become much more expensive. Viewed over several years, it is even the biggest increase: prices are now 20 percent higher than six years ago. Consumers started to pay more, especially in 2016 and 2017. In those years, many supermarkets exchanged the cheap broiler chicken for a slightly more sustainable and more expensive variant.
All in all, this means that a healthy afternoon has become significantly more expensive in seven months: 5.3 percent. The same applies to the football evening from the first episode, which also rose slightly further in price in December. The Christmas purchases in the previous section have become slightly cheaper, partly because the price of fuel fell slightly last month.
It should be noted that these figures for the basket as a whole may give a distorted picture, because this section follows the weighting of Statistics Netherlands. When compiling the total inflation basket, the statistical office gives each product a certain weight, depending on how heavily it counts in the annual expenditure. It may therefore be that yogurt weighs relatively heavily in this section, while in reality it is a much smaller expense than a food processor.
Illustrations Midas van Son.
Infographics Studio NRC, January 14, 2022.