Bread, pasta, coffee and ice cream. Here are the price crafty ones

Some have raised a single flavor cone by ten cents. Who for two euros per kilo the package of ice cream to take home. Those who, on the other hand, review the list of coffee and bread. Inflation is running, according to the numbers: + 6.2% on an annual basis, according to Istat. The fault of Covid, of the war and of the energy price increases, of course. But in the folds of the increases that mainly affect the food sector (+6.3 in April compared to 5.8% in March), something else can also be hidden. Isn’t it that someone is taking advantage of the inflation alarm to adjust their earnings?


It can happen, assures Mauro Antonelli of the National Consumers Union (Unc): “Along the chain that brings food from the farmer to the table – he says – speculations often creep in”. Let’s think about pasta. We could imagine that the blame lies with Putin’s war: “The invasion of Ukraine has blocked the granary of Europe”, we often hear. This is not exactly the case: spaghetti is made with durum wheat and Russia and Ukraine satisfy only 2.3% of world exports. They can’t affect that much. In fact, the first increase in prices dates back to last summer due to bad Canadian harvests. Then there were adjustments for the cost of energy. But now? In March 2021, a kilo of pasta at the supermarket cost € 1.30 against 1.52 today. An increase of 17% which for Antonelli “is unjustified”.


Similar speech for bread and baked goods. It is good that Russia and Ukraine export 31% of the world’s soft wheat, and therefore the conflict unbalances the market. But first, Italy imports little from the two countries. Second, the raw material only accounts for 10% of the final price. And third, explains Furio Truzzi president of Assoutenti, “Ukrainian wheat will only be harvested in July and has not yet been released on the market.” Yet the bakers complain of exorbitant increases in flour and say they are forced to adjust the price of the loaf. A baker in the Milanese has gone from 4 euros per kilo to 4.50. In Melzo we are already at 5 euros. In Monza someone even charged 10 euros per kilogram for special bread. Others, despite legal obligations, avoid displaying prices or delivering the receipt to the customer indicating the cost per kilogram. A phenomenon similar to the so-called shrinkflation, an incorrect but not illegal practice, when companies reduce the weight of the packaged product while keeping the price unchanged.


The problem is that in theory you can sell pasta for 1 million euros per package without committing crimes. The definition of anomalous price is missing and it is the market, in a nutshell, that commands. The Antitrust Authority can intervene, the prosecutors open files, the Guardia di Finanza monitors as well as the Price Guarantor. But sanctioning is complicated: if the rumor is that inflation is running and a trader raises prices to make a little profit, no one can dispute it.

Courgettes, for example, are a nationally produced vegetable that is not affected by international tensions. Yet, reports Altroconsumo, the price has grown by an average of 33 cents per kilogram in one year. Not all the increases, the trade associations assure, are justified by the expensive bills. And are the price lists of some ice cream shops in Milan really consistent, with dizzying cup prices? Certainly the glucose and dextrose have risen, as have the bills. And ice cream parlors may have applied hikes avoided earlier this year today. But the increase is significant. “Compared to 2021, we have gone from + 3.7% in January to + 6.1% in March – explains Antonelli – The fear is that in April there was a further surge. It would be the confirmation of a speculation ». After all, those who work in the sector of bars and cafes ensure that “someone is exaggerating”. “Some colleagues march there – says Maximiliano Gioia, of Cin Cin Bar in Cernusco sul Naviglio – I have seen frozen brioches go around in the last month from 1 euro to 1.30”. It certainly cannot be the fault of the war in Ukraine. Not in this area. Other baristas, anonymously, confirm that many have chosen to ask for 10 or 20 cents more for coffee. Even if for now the increase “would not be justified”.

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Bread, pasta, coffee and ice cream. Here are the price crafty ones

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