Unemployment, rising taxes and falling wages have combined to change the calculus for more and more people in Spain.
Increasingly, according to new studies, Spanish households are dealing with the economic crisis by reducing the quality and quantity of foods they eat.
The official statistics given by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment showed that the money spent on food decreased by 2.3% in September and 1.8% in October.
The spending per person decreased during three months consecutively as well.
This data was compiled by a survey of 12'000 homes during a one-year period (Nov 2011-Oct 2012).
Catholic charity Caritas, which takes care of the poor and oppressed, increased their distribution of non-perishable food to help families over the Christmas period by 30%. The food industry is traditionally one of the most resistant during a crisis, but this particular downturn has taught many consumers worldwide to seek other eating options at lower prices. Now in Spain, the low-cost supermarkets (such as Mercadona and Dia) are pushing their prices down further. Thanks to a 3% sales tax increase on foods (from 7%-10%) implemented by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after the summer, many once standard foods have now come to be considered luxury items for Spanish consumers.
Apparently, meat, fish and sausages are being replaced by foods that are cheaper, such as pasta, rice and cheaper meats.
Wine sales are down by 9.4% and the sparkling variety by 9.8%.
But, most surprisingly, olive oil is being sold less and less (-15.7%) in a country where it is widely produced. Cheaper oils such as sunflower are now an increasingly popular alternative. (1%).