Identical price rates simply do not exist

Dialogue between residents of various countries always eventually turns to the subject of food, comparing the price of milk, meat and bread
By Alexander Somov

Even within the European Union, whose markets have already integrated, prices differ drastically. Recently, the main statistical body of the European Union, Eurostat, compared prices for foodstuffs, alcohol and cigarettes across Europe.

Some EU states are very expensive to live in while others are comparatively cheap. High prices in Denmark have led to a rather disturbing trend: Danes driving into neighbouring Germany to do their weekly shop. Their savings even compensate for fuel costs.

Economically developed Great Britain, France and Germany are mid-range in terms of consumer prices within the EU while Serbia, Macedonia, Poland and Romania are considered to be inexpensive. Bulgaria is also among the ‘modest’ countries, with food prices among the lowest in the European Union. Bulgarians enjoy an average salary of 350-380 Euros, while a loaf of bread costs 0.5 Euros and pork is priced at upwards of 7 Euros per kilogramme; white wine costs 3-5 Euros per bottle while a pack of cigarettes costs 2.5 Euros. All the same, Bulgarians spend more than half of their salary on food.

Price differences across CIS states are also considerable, and on the rise, with Belarus ranked first within the CIS for rising consumer prices, according to national statistics. Over the first six months of this year, our prices rose 7 percent, compared to those in Russia increasing 3.5 percent; Armenia and Kazakhstan saw price rises of 2.7 percent, Moldova — 2.3 percent, Tajikistan — 1.6 percent, Kyrgyzstan — 1.5 percent, and Ukraine — 0.2 percent. 

Looking at the consumer price ratio for foodstuffs, in May, across CIS capitals, there are some surprising results. The Interstate Statistical Committee of the CIS compares prices as a percentage of the price for beef — as a benchmark. As of May of this year, the most expensive butter was found in Yerevan, with 1kg costing more than 1kg of beef (by 67 percent). In comparison, the Baku price for 1kg of butter was 23 percent less than for 1kg of beef.

Comparing Minsk with other CIS capitals, using 1kg of beef as the benchmark, we have the most expensive bread and the cheapest milk and pasta (the latter being comparable with Astana). Yerevan has the most expensive eggs, while Baku has the priciest milk. Bishkek has the highest prices for sunflower oil, while Moscow tops the list for potato, fresh cabbage and pasta. Astana food prices are the lowest for beef, sunflower oil, milk, sugar, pasta and onions.
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