Inspired by France, retailers in Slovakia cap food prices

The price of 400 products should not increase until mid-June.

Interim Agriculture Minister Samuel Vlčan (r) and Filip Kasana (l) from Zväz Obchodu SR, a retail trade association.Interim Agriculture Minister Samuel Vlčan (r) and Filip Kasana (l) from Zväz Obchodu SR, a retail trade association. (Source: TASR - Pavel Neubauer)

Inspired by France, eight retail chains, Slovak and foreign, have agreed to cap the prices of 400 Slovak food products for the next three months.

The measure supported by Billa, CBA, Coop Jednota, Kaufland, Lidl, Labaš, Terno and Tesco came into effect on March 20.

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Curbing inflation

The chains aim to voluntarily curb inflation pressure on people and without the market becoming a mess due to state interventions. This is a scenario seen today in Hungary, where the government introduced a staple food price cap followed by a sharp increase in food prices. In Slovakia, overall inflation stood at 15.4 percent in February.

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Rising energy, housing and food prices have the biggest impact on overall inflation, and these items make up half of household expenses. Food prices in Slovakia have been continuously rising for the third year. In February they were 28.6 percent higher year-on-year. Milk, cheese, eggs and bread as well as meat have become significantly more expensive in recent years.

The Agriculture Ministry led by Samuel Vlčan (OĽaNO nom.) has welcomed the initiative of eight retail chains.

Published lists

Each firm promised to publish its own list of products with a capped price on its website on Monday, as did the ministry. However, only some have made these lists available to customers by Monday evening. Every list contains a different number of products whose price will not increase in the following few months, ranging from 30 to 100 products.

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For example, Kaufland boasts of more than 100 products with capped prices in its press release. In fact, nine different flavours of yoghurt from the same brand appear several times on the list, the Index magazine wrote. Other stores have adopted a similar approach.

In stores, these products have “Protiinflačná Garancia” (Anti-inflation Guarantee) written next to them.

“These food products will be placed on a shelf marked with a shopping cart logo in a circle on a blue background, which will be the same in every chain,” the minister explained last week.

Meat, fruits and vegetables do not appear on the lists very often even though their prices keep rising.

The latest initiative is not a complete novelty. Last March, the Agriculture Ministry and retail chains signed a declaration on price stability. It guaranteed the stable price of 13 basic staple food products to consumers, including steamed pork ham, chicken, pork sausages, fruit yoghurt, fresh butter, eggs (size M) and semi-skimmed milk.

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