The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has reported that the prices of consumer goods and services in Ireland increased by 7.7% in March 2023 compared to the same month in 2022. This means that consumers paid an extra 45c for 2L of full-fat milk and 68c more for a pound of butter at the checkout in March compared to what they would have paid a year earlier. The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the CSO highlights that prices have been increasing in Ireland on an annual basis since April 2021, with inflation of 5% or more recorded every month since October 2021.
The CPI shows that consumers were hardest hit in the 12 months to March 2023 when it came to paying for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which jumped by 20.8%. Food and non-alcoholic beverages also increased by 13.1%. Anthony Dawson, a statistician with the CSO, stated that “The national average price of a number of items rose in March 2023. There were price increases for an 800g loaf of white/brown sliced pan (+25c), 2L of full-fat milk (+45c), and a pound of butter (+68c) when compared with March 2022.”
According to the CSO, the price paid by consumers for fresh whole milk rose by 24.3% in the 12 months to March 2023, while the price for fresh low-fat milk increased by 17.9%. The price of a range of other products also showed a significant increase compared to prices paid in March 2022. This included sugar, which increased by 36.8%, frozen fish, which jumped by 26.9%, butter, which increased by 21.0%, and eggs, which also rose by 20.0%.
Despite the rise in consumer prices, some farm organizations have questioned why prices are continuing to rise while the price paid at farmgate is falling. Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), has described cuts in the milk price to farmers since the start of the year as “absolutely horrendous” and said “hard questions need to be asked and answered”. He believes the “margin is there in the market and in the supply chain – the consumer prices and inflation rates prove it”.
The Irish government has stated that it is aware of the impact of rising prices on consumers and is taking steps to address the issue. Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, has said that the government is committed to keeping inflation under control and that measures such as increasing investment in infrastructure and reducing taxes on low-income households will help to ease the burden on consumers. However, with inflation rates continuing to rise, it remains to be seen whether these measures will be enough to alleviate the pressure on Irish consumers.