Each year, each Spaniard spends an average of 57.5 euros on an aperitif, a small bite to whet the appetite, consecrated as the DNA of bars and Spanish gastronomic tradition, but which also finds a place to celebrate in homes, despite the rise in prices of its ingredients.
In total, eight out of ten Spaniards consume a snack on a regular basis, either weekly, 56%, or daily, 24%, according to data extracted from the report “A country of snacking”, prepared by the Sigma brand. and made public on the occasion of the celebration this Tuesday of Appetizer Day.
The initiative to consecrate September 19 as World Appetizer Day arose three years ago by the company Lay's with the aim of reclaiming that day to "pay tribute to a custom so characteristic of Spanish culture and gastronomy." The profile of the protagonist in Spain of this small meal is a middle-aged adult who prefers salty foods, as the report shows.
According to the etymological meaning of the word appetizer, it responds to the action of whetting the appetite; a meal, frugal but with content, that “is taken before a main meal”, as pointed out by the Urgent Spanish Foundation (Fundéu).
Although a few years ago this gastronomic ritual went through “a small crisis” of consumption in bars, it has now recovered and is experiencing a moment of “growth”, in the opinion of the president of Hospitality of Spain, José Luis Yzuel. In bars, precisely this tradition rooted in Spain finds its best ally, because for Yzuel, the DNA of the aperitif resides in the bars of the hospitality industry.
There, the gildas, the pintxos, the vermouth and the beer stand out as the protagonists of this meal before the main meal that has always conquered the average citizen and has also had great defenders of the public sphere, such as the director of Luis Buñuel cinema.
“Now, as old as a century, I barely leave the house. But, at the sacred hour of the aperitif, alone in the little room where I keep my bottles, I like to remember the bars that I loved,” Buñuel sighed between the lines in the book “My Last Sigh,” published in 1982.
The film director confesses in this book that “he used to have an aperitif at night in a very long room with granite columns” and that “he also had a weakness for French aperitifs, the picón-Grenadine beer.”
But the space to enjoy the aperitif is not only limited to the walls of the bars, but with the food that is in the pantries of the houses you can put together an aperitif in a “petit committee”.
Now, many of the star products in this small meal have seen their prices increase in supermarkets in recent months, so the cost of the snack at home has increased.
For example, the latest data published in August by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) show that the price of potato chips has become 11.2% more expensive than in the same period last year.
Another star product in this small meal that has also seen its cost rise is cheese, with an increase of 10.8% compared to August 2022, while nuts maintain a less marked increase, with 2.8%. As for drinks, the price of soft drinks in general has increased by 12.3%, that of grape wine by 4.8% and that of blonde beer by 11.8%.
The outlay that those who prefer to accompany the aperitif with a non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beer have to make has also risen, in total, 10.6% more than in the same period of the previous year.
The characteristic of tradition does not take away the innovative charge of this type of food, which in recent years has adapted to new trends and gastronomic formats and this is reflected in an increase in the consumption of snacks classified as “healthy”.
For example, carrot sticks have experienced growth in the last year of 137% more sales volume and have gone from accumulating a total of 60,466 kilos in sales from June 2021 to May 2022, to more than doubling it with 143,620 kilos in the following moving year.