Spar Austria boss appeals to EC over food speculation

Spar Austria chief Gerhard Drexel has called on political decision-makers to “prevent” speculation on agricultural products.Business experts have warned that increased speculation on the trade rates of cereal products and other foodstuffs may lead to significant price increases in supermarkets around the world.Asked by the Kurier newspaper whether shoppers will have to bear the brunt, Drexel said today (Fri): “It is impossible to determine how these developments will affect individual product prices. I don’t expect such immense price increase as in 2008.”The businessman – whose company has 36,500 employees in Austria – added: “I appeal on the European Commission (EC) to stop speculation on agricultural feedstock. A veto is possible if politicians want it.”Drexel pointed out that food price rate speculation was “not ethically correct”. He warned: “These activities drive whole nations into famines and political revolts.”Speaking about the Hungarian government’s controversial business tax all major firms doing business in the country were recently confronted with, he said: “We have been ordered to pay around 25 million Euros retroactively for our operations in 2010. Foreign companies have to come up for 90 per cent of this levy. That’s not normal and contradicts fundamental European principles. (The EC in) Brussels will have to make a decision on this issue.”Drexel said yesterday that Spar Austria managed to increase its market share in the Austrian supermarket sector by one per cent to 29.5 per cent from 2009 to 2010. He added that the firm’s turnover soared by 4.5 per cent to 5.15 billion Euros.