The prices of basic commodities in Czech shops continue to rise. According to data released by the Czech Statistics Office, consumer prices in May increased by 0.6 percent compared to April, driven mainly by higher prices of food, specifically fruit and vegetables.
The prices of vegetables in May increased by 6.2 percent on the previous month, many of them reaching a historical high. While the price of potatoes increased by 11 percent on average, the prices of other vegetables have grown as well, with onions and cabbage seeing the fastest growth.
Onions, normally one of the cheapest commodities, are currently more expensive than some exotic fruits. A kilo of onions is currently sold for 38 crowns on average, while last year it was only around 13 crowns. Potatoes cost around 26 crowns a kilo, compared to 14 crowns last May.
The price growth of vegetables is the result of last year’s hot and dry summer and the subsequent poor harvest combined with small reserves.
According to Petr Hank from the Czech-Moravian Union of Vegetable Growers, Czech farmers can currently only cover about one third of the country’s fruit and vegetable consumption. That puts the Czech Republic in the last spot among other EU member states, with the exception of Luxembourg.
Among other reasons behind the continuous increase of vegetable prices is the fact that many Czech farmers prefer to grow grains and rape seed to vegetables, due to lower production costs.
“We are able to cover the needs of Czech consumers during the season. But out of the season, we are completely dependent on imports. All the extra cost consumers had to pay for vegetables this year went abroad,” Mr Hank told Czech Radio.
Most of the country’s vegetables have to be imported from other countries, including Poland, Spain and Germany, but since last year’s poor harvest was an EU-wide problem, imports from abroad are not helping to push down the prices.
The good news is that Czech farmers have already started harvesting some early spring vegetables, such as carrots, radishes and cabbage, so their prices are likely to gradually decrease.
The Vegetable Growers’ Union says the Czech Republic would also profit from building more refrigerated storehouses, where vegetables could be stored all year long without losing their quality.
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