Republic is second most expensive euro zone country for food and alcohol

Alcohol prices in State just over double the EU average last year, CSO finds

The Republic is the second most expensive country in the euro zone for food and alcohol and the most expensive for tobacco, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The agency looked at how the price levels of food, beverages and tobacco here compared with other European countries in 2021.

It found that food prices in the Republic were 17 per cent above the EU27 average, making the State the second-most expensive jurisdiction in the euro zone for food behind Luxembourg, and third most expensive in the EU27.

The price of all foods in the Republic, with the exception of fish, were higher than the EU average.

Irish prices for milk, cheese and eggs were found to be on average 25 per cent higher, oils and fats were 22 per cent higher, while breads and cereals were typically 20 per cent higher.

For alcohol, the State was the second most expensive country in both the euro zone and EU27, with alcohol prices here just over double the EU27 average.

The CSO’s figures were based on Eurostat figures published earlier this month, which included price comparisons between European Union members and with countries such as Switzerland, Norway as well as EU applicant countries.

When these additional states are included, the most expensive place for food and non-alcoholic drinks was Switzerland with prices 66 per cent above the EU average. Ireland was ranked as the sixth most expensive with prices 19 per cent above the EU average. In terms of alcohol, Iceland was the most expensive country with prices 186 per cent above the EU average.

Ireland was the most expensive of the 36 countries in Europe, for tobacco, with prices 145 per cent higher than the EU27 average, reflecting the steep taxes places on cigarettes.

The figures come amid a sharp cost-of-living squeeze and suggest that prices here were already high comparatively speaking before the current inflationary surge.

The Economic and Social Research Institute warned last week that Irish households were facing the biggest drop in living standards since the 2008 financial crisis as earnings from work fail to keep pace with soaring inflation.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times