Farmers emphasise quality aspects as prices soar

Farmers have appealed to customers to appreciate the high quality of food produced in Austria instead of complaining about high prices.

The Chamber of Agriculture pointed out today (Thurs) Austria’s food quality and safety standards were much stricter than European Union (EU) regulations in many regards. The chamber also stressed that genetically manipulated products were banned completely in Austria.

Its appeal comes one day after the Federal Labour Chamber (AK) revealed that many of the top-selling products on offer in shops in Vienna currently cost significantly more than in June of the previous year. Checks by the AK showed that flour was 69 per cent more expensive while the price of butter shot up by 32 per cent between June 2010 and July 2011. The AK also found that customers had to fork out 8.2 per cent more for a basket of 41 goods than three months ago.

The Chamber of Agriculture argued that pushing prices to rates as low as possible was “not a desirable target.” The chamber claimed other aspects such as top hygiene levels and high quality standards would matter too. It said that checks ensuring such circumstances would cost money, adding that not only droughts and rising global market prices were to blame for increasing consumer prices.

The chamber also warned that disproportionately low prices were posing a danger to Austria’s organic and mountain farming businesses.

Austrians’ spending power soared by 4.6 per cent from 2008 to 2009 despite the economic crisis, according to research company KMU Forschung Austria. The group said Austrians had around 135 billion Euros of disposable income to spend in 2009.

Austria currently has the fourth-highest per capita gross domestic product (GDP) among the EU’s 27 member countries with 124 per cent, according to Eurostat, the European Commission’s (EC) statistics authority.

Asked for his opinion on consumer price developments, Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) expert Helmut Hofer warned: “We (Austrians) will have to get used to rising prices.”

Hofer said the IHS expected the annual inflation rate to increase to an average 2.2 per cent between this year and 2015 after annual jumps of only 1.8 per cent in the past four years.