Months after the VAT reduction on basic foods was launched, some organizations question its usefulness. Facua-Consumers in Action denounces that many supermarkets have taken advantage of the reduction in taxes to make these staple products more expensive: "four out of ten foods analyzed have risen in price, thus the inflationary escalation is stabilized, taking into account that in April were also four out of ten", criticizes the association.
To reach these conclusions, the consumer defense organization has reviewed the evolution of 1,000 prices in eight Spanish chains: Alcampo, Aldi, Carrefour, Dia, Eroski, Lidl, Hipercor and Mercadona. Thanks to this monitoring, Facua has observed that 438 of these foods (43.8% of the articles studied) have become more expensive compared to the cost they had on December 30 once the VAT reduction was applied.
For this reason, the body is going to expand the complaints that it already filed in January, February, March and April before the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), which up to now has not given any type of response, they regret from this organism.
Increasing the prices of products that have experienced a drop in VAT is not allowed, according to section three of article 72 of Royal Decree-Law 20/2022, of December 27, remember from Facua. The document reads as follows: "the reduction in the tax rate will fully benefit the consumer, without the amount of the reduction being able to be totally or partially used to increase the business profit margin with the consequent increase in prices in the production, distribution or consumption of the products.
Despite the fact that the Government assured that it would carry out a study of the cost of food through its price observatory, until today no data on its conclusions have been disclosed, critic Facua. "The association has requested from the Ministry of Planas the data related to these alleged price monitoring through the Transparency Portal."
The latest data from Facua's research show that Aldi is the supermarket where these foods have become more expensive (32 of 58 products analyzed are more expensive than in December), followed by Carrefour (52.1% of the items analyzed have risen in price).
In Hipercor, 47.6% of the foods affected by the drop in VAT are more expensive. In the case of Dia, they are 44.9%, in Lidl, 44.4% and in Alcampo, 44.3%. The lowest percentage was experienced by the products of Eroski (36.6%) and Mercadona (30.1%).
On the other hand, Alcampo and Lidl are the only two distribution chains in which, in May, the total number of foods that have increased their price has been reduced compared to what was there last April.
Most of these increases have been suffered by fruits and vegetables (33.4% of the total), olive and sunflower oils (18.6%) and dairy products (15%). Although there has also been an increase in the price of rice and pasta (14.5%) and legumes (8.4%).
To conclude, the organization points out that within the group of fruits and vegetables, oranges and potatoes are the products that have increased the most in price.