Recommended food basket for household of four costs EUR 304 in Estonia - survey

In Estonia the cost of the recommended shopping basket of food for a family of four is 304 euros a month, it appears from a study conducted by the Swedbank Institute for Private Finance in the Baltic countries in January.

The cost of a similar basket in Latvia is 319 euros and in Lithuania 280 euros. The cost per adult household member was 89 euros in Latvia, 85 euros in Estonia and 78 euros in Lithuania.

Compared to the average net wage, expenditures for the food basket were the lowest in Estonia at 22 percent of the average wage or salary. The respective ratios for Latvia and Lithuania were 32 percent and 29 percent, mostly as a result of differences in the average wage.

The top three most expensive food items, or meat, fish and eggs, made up 40 percent of the cost of the food basket, or 120 euros in the case of the Estonian basket for a household of four.

The share taken up by meat was six percentage points bigger in Estonia than for the southern neighbors because pork is 29 percent more expensive in Estonia than in Lithuania and almost ten percent more expensive than in Latvia. Of other food products, the prices of dairy products varied the most between the three countries.

A look at the effect of discount campaigns on goods in the recommended basket of groceries reveals that in Estonia only three percent of the cost of the basket could be saved opting for discount products. In Lithuania the ratio that could be saved was 8 percent and in Latvia as much as 14 percent.

The manager of the Swedbank Institute for Private Finance, Anne Sagi, said the aim of the survey was to evaluate the share of food expenditures in the Baltic countries on a more trustworthy basis. She said that, according to Eurostat, in the Baltic countries spending on food is the biggest outlay for families expressed as a ratio of their income.

The food baskets used in the present survey and in the Eurostat survey have been put together on a different basis, however, Sagi added.

The survey looked at prices of products in the major food chains in the Baltic capitals from January 14-20.