Ireland is among the most expensive countries in Europe in terms of buying food and drink.
The latest statistics by Eurostat show that Irish prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages were the joint-fourth highest in the EU last year, and the second highest for both alcohol and tobacco.
Food baskets in Ireland are 20% higher than the EU average, with Denmark the most expensive at 130% of the European average, followed by Luxembourg and Austria at 125%.
The new figures show a huge variation in prices across the continent, with Romania (66%) and Poland (69%) the most consumer-friendly countries in terms of buying food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Ireland is also the second most expensive EU country for buying alcohol, at 177% of the EU average, behind only Finland at 182%.
As with food, there was also a great variation across Europe in terms of alcohol price levels.
Ireland and Finland’s price levels were almost two and a half times those of the lowest countries, Bulgaria and Romania, who were both 74% of the EU average.
Elsewhere, Irish consumers were also hit in the pocket in terms of purchasing tobacco, with price levels more than double the EU average (201%), behind only the UK at 204%.
Dairy products were also on the high side by European comparisons, with Ireland the fourth highest in terms of buying milk, cheese and eggs, behind Cyprus, Greece and Luxembourg.
Ireland features seventh in terms of price levels for bread and cereals, 19% above the EU average.
However, meat prices gave Irish people slightly more breathing space, with consumers paying only 5% above the EU average, the eleventh highest out of 28 EU member states.
Reacting to the Eurostat figures, Rosemary Garth, chairwoman of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) and Communications and Corporate Affairs Director at Irish Distillers, said: “It is disappointing, yet unsurprising, to see Ireland in the top tier of most expensive EU countries when it comes to the prices of food and drink.”
Ms Garth said Ireland’s high excise tax rates were reflected in its alcohol price levels."
“This is a tax that impacts everyone in the industry, from drinks and hospitality businesses to consumers.
"Our excise levels on alcohol are prohibitive and undermine our competitiveness, particularly given current political and economic considerations and uncertainty ahead of Brexit.
"Together with industry, the Government should consider today’s Eurostat data carefully ahead of Budget 2020 planning and in preparation for what could be a hard Brexit.”