At the age of 67, Antoni Gálvez has been dedicated to the meat products business for several decades and assures that he has not experienced an increase in costs and raw materials like the current one. “I have never seen anything like it”, insists this owner of local butcher shops in the Barcelona area.
Small businesses, he assures, face the situation based on increasing efficiency and reducing margins, because transferring all the increase in costs to the consumer "is unaffordable." To begin with, the price of the electricity bill has multiplied by between two and three. "In the largest of the stores that I have, I paid 4,850 euros for electricity in July, when in the same month last year I paid 1,400 euros", 250% more, explains Gálvez, president of the Gremi de Carnissers de Barcelona i Província. "I cannot pass these costs on to the client. And in the sector we are all in the same situation", he emphasizes.
Unlike homes or electro-intensive industries, small businesses like this butcher's do not benefit from government measures to lower the electricity bill. Added to this is the cost of the products. “Carcass beef – the whole piece – has risen to 6 euros per kilo; and you have to keep in mind that you can't take advantage of everything from one piece, such as fat or bone”, he points out.
This has caused the sirloin to reach 40 euros per kilo or the steak 15-20 euros per kilo these days in any store. "We had never sold at these prices, and even so we are earning less," say other sources in the sector consulted. The producers of the meat industry also insist that they also suffer from the increase in costs – electricity, feed, water...–.
And if prices are at these levels at the end of November, next month they can reach exceptional levels in certain categories. “From December 1, wholesalers always raise rates; Buying in advance can save money”, advises Gálvez.
This week, he continues, there has been a supply purchase for Christmas in star products. Like the kid, which from costing about 17 euros per kilo some time ago, has gone down to around 25 or 27 euros, or certain birds. In the case of Iberian products, the opposite phenomenon is happening, explains Antonio Prieto, president of the Iberian Pig Interprofessional Association (Asici). The purchase of Iberian pieces that used to accelerate from October, this year is slower. "We are waiting to see how the consumer will react in the final stretch of the year," he sums up, "The situation is complicated for both the food chain and the consumer," Prieto continues, "we are going to work with fewer margins."
In the case of nougat, industry sources indicate that the price increase is between 6% and 10%. The Coag organization has denounced this week that while nougat is sold on the shelves "10% more expensive", according to its analysis, Spanish almond and honey producers are being paid 7% less. “This year I have not sold the almonds because it was not worth it; the industry has bought a lot from outside the EU at lower prices; and honey from China," says Francisco Ponce, an almond producer in Aragon and a member of Coag. In his case, production costs have also skyrocketed