New wave of price increases

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Supermarkets and retailers have signalled a new wave of price hikes on commodities, especially foodstuffs, as goods importers are considering adjusting their invoices quoting increased costs.

Marios Antoniou, general secretary of the Cyprus Retailers Association, told the Financial Mirror that retailers and importers will not be able to fend off price hikes by shouldering a large part of increases, as they have been doing for the past year.

“Despite retailers and suppliers working together to find alternatives, increases in the near future should be taken for granted due to an ongoing rise in the cost of raw materials, which proved to be anything but temporary,” said Antoniou.

Arguing that retailers had been doing their part in keeping prices from taking off, by absorbing part of recent cost increases, Antoniou said that retailers will not be able to fend off further upcoming increases.

He said that supermarkets have never stopped receiving requests from importers to push up prices on the shelves.

“Such requests have been coming in continuously for the past couple of years, but retailers have been softening the blows,” he said.

“Despite the positive signs of falling inflation, exogenous factors and international developments create a fluid landscape, which inevitably affects the Cypriot market,” he added.

Antoniou said that the ongoing war in Ukraine, coupled with other developments, such as the shock international markets have suffered after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, create  further uncertainty in the markets.

“In this environment, possibly the only weapon at consumers’ disposal is the increased competition between retailers,” said Antoniou.

Private labels

He also added that consumers have made a turn towards private labels, moving away from the more expensive branded products.

The term “private label” describes products sold under a retailer’s own brand but made by a third party.

“Private label products have been gaining ground, enhancing the trust relationship between retailers and consumers,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to the latest data from the Statistical Service Cystat, prices of basic foodstuffs have increased more than the inflation rate.

During the first two months of the year, the price of sugar, margarine and other plant-based oils increased by 74.35%.

The price of olive oil increased by 18.58%, beef by 25.37%, lamb and goat meat by 24.47%, pork by 18.76%, fresh fish by 15.16%, and vegetables by 25.04%.

The price of pasta increased by 21.22%, rice went up by 17.09%, fresh full-fat milk by 17.91%, nuts by 12.88%, and chocolates by 11.7%.