Since January, the prices of dairy, pasta, meat and coffee have all increased on average by about 6%. Cheese, for example, has become 18% more expensive in just six months. Eggs have increased in price by about 10%.
These price hikes can be attributed to a number of factors: Malta’s dependency on oil as an energy source, the weakness of the euro against the dollar and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU.
The sanctions against Russia – which were imposed following its annexation of Crimea in 2014 – have had a ripple effect throughout Europe. Because Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of sunflower oil, its invasion of Ukraine has led to a significant increase in the price of oil worldwide. This hike has inevitably been passed on to consumers.
In addition, the weak euro has made imports from outside of Europe more expensive. This has driven up the cost of basic food items like cheese and eggs, which are produced domestically but whose prices are pegged to international rates.
It is important to note that not all food items have increased in price. Fruit and vegetables, for example, have remained relatively stable. This is likely because they are not as reliant on oil as other food items and are not as exposed to fluctuations in currency rates.
Nevertheless, Maltese consumers are feeling the pinch and are being forced to make tough choices when it comes to what they put on their shopping lists. Many are choosing to buy cheaper brands or smaller quantities in order to save money. Others are simply going without certain items altogether.
This situation is likely to persist for some time to come. The price of oil is not expected to drop anytime soon and the euro is likely to remain weak against other currencies. Therefore, Maltese shoppers can expect to see further increases in the prices of basic food items in the months ahead.