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Europe's cost-of-living crisis: Food prices in Sweden recorded 'enormous' surge in January

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A customer shops at a store in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Xinhua)

Food prices in Sweden have recorded one of the largest hikes since food prices started rising almost a year ago, according to a new report, as European countries grapple with the rapidly worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Citing a survey conducted by price comparison site Matpriskollen, Swedish Television (SVT) reported on Monday that food prices rose by 1.4 percent in January, one of the largest monthly increases since inflation skyrocketed in the country in January 2022.

According to the survey, some items for which inflation was relatively modest last year suddenly became considerably more expensive in January.

"For some items, the price hike was enormous in January," Ulf Mazur, founder and managing director of Matpriskollen, told SVT, citing sugar as an example.

"The remarkable thing is that it was not a long and slow increase but a shock increase (in January) for certain items," Mazur added.

Sweden recorded an annual inflation rate of 12.3 percent in December, according to the data released by Statistics Sweden last month. The figure was the highest since February 1991.

Last December, a report in the Guardian newspaper found that Sweden, a Scandinavian country known for its generous welfare system, was grappling with a poverty problem amid soaring food and energy prices.

Despite being abundant in green energy, with over 75 percent of its electricity coming from hydropower, nuclear and wind, Sweden has not escaped the continent-wide energy price impact of the war in Ukraine, with electricity bills in some cases doubling and hitting household incomes.

The gap between rich and poor in the country has widened as the welfare system has been steadily cut back in recent years, exposing more people to inflation.

According to the Guardian report, over 14 percent of the country's population is estimated to be in relative poverty, defined as living on 60 percent or less of the median income this year.

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