Telex compared the prices of products available in Hungarian and Italian Lidl stores in the two countries. A typical basket costs more in Italy, but some products are up to 30% cheaper there.
The phenomenon was previously covered by G7, who used their own shopping lists to compare Austrian, British and French Aldi and Lidl stores with their national counterparts.
It is difficult to get an accurate idea of the Euro exchange rate due to fluctuations, but prices for Italian products have been converted to Forint at an exchange rate of 357 HUF.
Telex created a basket of 27 products. They tried to take the weekend shopping of an average Hungarian family as a starting point, omitting from the initial list foods that they thought were underutilized, seasonal or expensive. They were also unable to compare products that are only available in one country.
The price of a basket is 16,731 HUF (less than 50 euros) in Hungary and 21,582 HUF (60 euros) in Italy, a difference of 30%. This difference is largely due to meat products.
If you remove the chicken breast, pork chops and salami from the basket, the price in Hungary is only 12,555 forints (EUR 35), compared to 14,366 (EUE 40) in Italy. That’s a difference of only 16%.
At Telexoriginal list, there were 41 products. Of these, some items are significantly more expensive in Italy than here.
Some of them are due to cultural differences (eg Italians don’t eat as much bread as Hungarians), others have different prices for big brands (eg Milka, Coca-Cola), and there are big differences for labor-intensive perishable foods. (meat, vegetables, some fruits).
The ten most expensive products in Italy compared to Hungarian prices are:
- Bread (+216%)
- Chicken breast fillets (118%)
- Onions (101%)
- Pork chops (66%)
- Coca-Cola (62%)
- Mirelit ice cream (52%)
- Salmon fillet with skin (51%)
- Potatoes (37%)
- Cottage cheese (32%)
- Milk chocolate (30%)
The list above shows that bread in Italy costs three times more than in Hungary. There is also a difference of more than double between chicken breast and onions, for which no explanation could be found, except that they are not consumed as much elsewhere than in Hungary. There is also a price difference between Coca-Cola and Milka chocolate, which are international brands.
Here is a list of products for which Italians pay much less than Hungarians:
- Canned beans (plus 37%)
- Olive oil (34%)
- Canned tomatoes (32%)
- Spaghetti pasta (30%)
- Mortadella (24%)
- Sliced edamame cheese (16%)
- Tomato (16%)
- Gouda (12%)
- Butter (11%)
- Fruit yogurt (11%)
The difference between canned beans and canned tomatoes is 30% or more, and there is no obvious explanation. One can understand why olive oil, spaghetti and mortadella, essential ingredients in Italian cuisine, are cheaper in Italy, but there is also a striking difference in dairy products.
The basket of goods costs less in Hungary as a whole but there are other factors to consider.
Hungarian prices much higher if wages are taken into account
The most recent official average net salary available in both countries is from 2020. In that year it was €1,770 per month in Italy, or 631,890 HUF at the current exchange rate, compared to 268,405 HUF per month in Italy. Hungary, i.e. EUR 1,770. against more than 750 EUR. In the absence of more recent data, these have been compared by Telex.
Thus, an average shopping weekend at Lidl costs 6.16% of the average net monthly salary in Hungary, compared to only 3.41% in Italy.
The VAT increase in Hungary is not the only reason for the deterioration of the purchase cost/monthly salary ratio
In Hungary, with few exceptions, a record 27% VAT applies to almost everything, the only exceptions being meat, eggs and milk. In Italy, on the other hand, foodstuffs are generally subject to VAT at 4 and 10%, with only products such as toilet paper and Coca-Cola paying the full 22%.
Of the HUF 16,532 (EUR 46) basket in Hungary, 2,675 taxes (nearly EUR 8), or 16.2% of the money we pay, goes to the state. In Italy, this is equivalent to 1,662 forints (less than 5 euros) out of 21,582 (more than 60 euros) or 7.7% of the bill. Thus, in total, Hungarians pay proportionately more than twice as much tax at home as Italians.
Higher VAT in Hungary is not the only explanation for the price difference
A clean comparison of the shopping basket shows an even greater price difference: if you deduct the tax and only look at what Lidl charges for these products, the result is 13,857 forints (less than 40 euros) against 19,920 (more than 55 euros), a difference of 44%. Thus in Italy, Lidl charges almost one and a half times more for the same products.
Featured image via László Róka/MTVA