Spanish government seeks to tame soaring prices of basic food products

Two Spanish government ministers met with the country’s largest food distributors and consumer groups on Monday to find a way to make basic food products more affordable amid soaring inflation.

“Our proposal involves offering consumers affordable shopping baskets that include fresh and healthy foods including fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy products,” Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s labor and social economy minister, told press after the meeting.

Prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks have surged 13.5% in the year leading up to July, according to official Spanish inflation data.

“The duty of any progressive government should be protecting the purchasing power of working families, and we’re working to find ways to freeze and moderate price increases for basic goods,” said Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzon.

The ministers insisted that they were not proposing mandatory price caps on food products but were instead pressuring and incentivizing distributors to use their power to help Spanish society cope with inflation.

Last week, Diaz met with the supermarket company Carrefour to discuss their plans for an affordable “shopping basket.”

On Monday, the French chain announced that it would launch its take on the affordable basics: 30 products for €30 ($30.4). However, that basket of basic goods does not include many of the products mentioned by the government such as eggs, fresh fruit or fresh vegetables.

July inflation data shows that the price of eggs and milk have both increased 23% in a year, while fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, and most meats have also seen more than the 13.5% average annual increase.

While Monday’s meeting did not result in an immediate agreement, the ministers applauded the “positive attitude” of the distributors to strike a deal that would last “beyond Christmas.”

The ministers said the negotiations will continue in the weeks to come.