Despite a rise in fuel prices contributing to an uptick in inflation from 1.2 per cent in March to 2.4 per cent in April, due to geopolitical developments, food inflation has continued to show signs of moderation.

According to the latest report of the Consumer Protection Service for April 2024, based on its price observatory, food inflation eased to 1.89 per cent from January to April 2024.

This is a slight drop from 2.14 per cent recorded from January to March 2024 and a comparative look at the same period last year.

The primary factor behind this easing was a noticeable reduction of 0.95 per cent in the cost of agricultural products compared to the previous month.

The observatory, which meticulously prepared the report, analyses the weighted average prices of 250 essential consumer items, encompassing both food and other commodities.

This data is meticulously gathered from daily price checks across 400 retail establishments countrywide throughout April.

The observatory’s main objective is to provide consumers with a dependable comparative overview of pricing across a broad spectrum of retail settings, including supermarkets, bakeries, and kiosks.

The detailed price index tables for April, released by the service, indicate that of the 45 basic product categories tracked, 21 witnessed price increases, 18 saw reductions, and six remained unchanged.

Notably, frozen shellfish and frozen fish prices increased by 7.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively, bucking the trend of declines seen over the previous three months.

Additionally, sugar prices surged by 4.7 per cent after six months of decline, while broths rose by 3.4 per cent. Other notable increases included bottled water, up by 3.3 per cent, and oils, particularly olive oil, which rose by 3 per cent.

There were also increases of 2.8 per cent in juices, breakfast cereals, and baby food, 2.7 per cent specifically for baby food, 2.2 per cent for frozen pasta, and 2 per cent for canned meat.

Conversely, 18 categories reported price drops, with fresh vegetables and greens leading the charge with a sharp decline of 13.1 per cent. Prices for vegetable cooking fat and flour fell by 10.8 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively.

Other significant reductions included fresh fish and molluscs, down by 4.6 per cent, eggs by 4 per cent, pasta by 2.3 per cent, pretzels by 1.5 per cent, and rice and biscuits each by 1.2 per cent. Prices for baby milk and fabric softeners also decreased by 1.3 per cent.

In its ongoing efforts to monitor and adapt to both international and domestic market trends, the service conducted a new round of price recordings on May 16, 2024, covering 55 widely used household products in three supermarkets in Nicosia.

The comparative analysis showed a 6.0 per cent price differential between the most expensive and the cheapest baskets, valued at €241.84 and €228.54 respectively, with the median-priced basket at €240.02.

Additionally, the application of a zero VAT rate to 11 selected products was found to save consumers between €7.21 and €7.78 on an average shopping trip costing around €90, depending on the supermarket.

The service continues to thoroughly oversee the enforcement of the zero VAT rate initiative, tracking prices of 88 different product categories across nine hypermarkets at 58 sales points nationwide.

The latest checks, completed on May 15, 2024, indicate common compliance, with price stability or reductions noted in approximately 70 per cent of the tracked items since the implementation of the measure on May 5.

The service emphasises that the price observatories are compiled strictly for consumer information and do not constitute shopping advice.

They are not designed to replace individual market research, which consumers should conduct based on their preferences, needs, and the specific data available.

The service also cautions that some products listed in the observatory may vary qualitatively, which cannot be adequately captured by this broad survey, thereby encouraging thorough market research before any purchase decisions are made, considering the insights provided by the observatory.