Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula (KDU-ČSL) has called supermarket chains to explain their high sugar prices. He said they set high trade markups, which he considers immoral. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) announced this in a press release on Wednesday.
“I certainly don’t want to interfere in the free market environment, but it seems at least immoral that, when our population is suffering from food price increases and households are tightening their belts, supermarkets are increasing their markups in this way. No one should take advantage of the current situation to disproportionately increase profits,” Nekula said, adding that he wants to know when businesses plan to reduce prices to a reasonable level.
18 Kč in September, 32 Kč in December
The ministry’s report on the steep rise in sugar prices relies on data from the Czech Statistical Office (CSO). While producer prices rose by CZK 6.7 per kilogram between September and December last year, they rose by as much as CZK 14 per kilogram in shops during the same period. In September, sugar cost CZK 18.21 on average, while in December, it cost CZK 32.23.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture admitted that increasing margins were not the only reason for the price rise over the period. “The reason for this is that sugar from the new harvest has been put on sale, which has been affected by increased costs of producers for more expensive energy and fertilizers, as well as excessive trade mark-ups of traders,” the ministry said.
The annual inflation rate in the Czech Republic reached 15.8 percent in December, down 0.4 percentage points from November. As in previous months, food had the most significant impact on the level of prices, with sugar, in particular, rising 98.9 percent year-on-year in December, CSO data showed.