Why are chicken wings so expensive

Three euros for a kilo of chicken - how can that work out?

A poster finally brought the barrel to overflow. The supermarket chain Edeka actually wanted to celebrate its centenary with comedian Otto Waalkes, but the plan backfired. The advertising also enraged German farmers who have been protesting for months against increasing environmental regulations and falling consumer prices in agriculture. "Food deserves a price: the lowest," it read.

"We don't understand that Edeka can think of nothing more than 'the lowest price' for its anniversary," ranted Joachim Rukwied, President of the German Farmers' Association. The advertising aims to ensure that "high-quality food is sold". This opinion was probably shared by around 200 farmers in the north German Lower Saxony who promptly blocked the access to a large Edeka warehouse with their tractors.

Although the large corporation rowed back - with Essen only the city near Oldenburg was meant - the discussion about the lowest prices in the supermarket was already sparked. Discounters like Edeka or Aldi are at the center of criticism. They would attract customers with the cheapest offers - especially in the meat sector - and in the end there would be hardly anything left for farmers.

The farmers are backed by Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU). She was angry about the pricing in supermarkets in a Facebook video. The politician criticized the price of 2.89 euros for a kilogram of chicken thighs. "That doesn't work," said Klöckner and appealed to consumers to think about animal and human welfare: "How should a farming family live on such a price?"

No government minimum price

Since then, the discussion about a state minimum price for food has once again been brought to life in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel wiped this off the table and instead invited the representatives of the four largest retail chains to a summit in Berlin on Monday. In the future, farmers should not only receive fair wages, but also more appreciation, according to the plan. How exactly this will happen is not yet clear. Another meeting between representatives from retail and agriculture is planned for the near future.

A look at the statistics shows that shopping in Germany's supermarkets is not particularly expensive, at least in a European comparison. The prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages are only slightly above the EU average, according to data from the Eurostat statistics agency. It looks completely different in Austria, in this country the price is a quarter above the average (in purchasing power parities). Only in Denmark do consumers have to pay more for their daily shopping.

On the other hand, alcoholic beverages are particularly cheap in Germany, the price is more than eleven percent below the EU-wide average. In Austria, the pendulum tends to swing in the other direction: bread and cereal products are 35 percent above the EU average, meat is more than 45 percent. In terms of both meat and fish, Austria ranks at the top of the EU market.

But even in Austria, farmers often do not have much left of what is on the price tag, as the Chamber of Agriculture calculated. For example, if consumers pay 2.27 euros for a kilo of apples, the farmer only receives 59 cents. "It's not funny here either," the farmers' representatives say. However, the situation in this country is not quite as bad as in Germany's discount stores, in which "discountitis" predominates. (Nora Laufer, February 5, 2020)