The price of bread rose by almost a fifth in the European Union in August as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both major exporters of grains and fertilisers, continued to disrupt global markets and headline inflation accelerated.
Global wheat prices have surged since February, after the war halted grain exports from the Black Sea for months and restricted fertiliser shipments as Russian producers lost access to Baltic Sea ports they had used to ship ammonia, a key ingredient in nitrate fertiliser.
The average price of bread in the EU was 18% higher in August 2022 than a year earlier, data from the bloc’s statistics office showed, the highest rise since December 2017 when Eurostat began compiling the statistic. “This is a huge increase compared with August 2021, when the price of bread was on average 3% higher than in August 2020. Monthly data also show a significant increase in headline inflation, although not as large (from +3% to +10%), Eurostat said.
Some countries were much more affected than others. The highest average rate of change in bread prices was recorded in Hungary (+66% in August 2022), followed by Lithuania (+33%), Estonia and Slovakia (both +32%). The countries with lowest average increases were France at 8%, and the Netherlands and Luxembourg which recorded a 10% rise each. Bread prices have risen consistently in the EU this year, from an average of 8.3% in February, when Russia launched what is calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine. Combined prices of bread and cereals increased by 16.6% in August, their highest rise since at least January 1997.