She stood there looking at it for a moment. When Clarisse van der Woude (47) was cleaning out her house, she found an Aldi receipt from 2005. She sent an email with the receipt to our editors. “Of course everyone is talking about it now. Everything has become more expensive. And yet I was shocked by what I saw.” Eighteen years later, in times of high inflation, we compare grocery prices with those of today. For one product there was even an increase of 424 percent.
“We were cleaning up,” says Van der Woude about her discovery. “Things we no longer needed could go. We came across a box with a paint stripper in it. We bought it for a purpose, but we never used it. I kept the receipt for warranty purposes. I paid 9.99 euros for it at the time. I wanted to sell the paint stripper on Marktplaats, so I looked up what it would cost now.”
The same paint burner is no longer sold, but comparable private label devices cost about the same or slightly more. “In the end I sold it for eight euros,” says Van der Woude with a laugh. Only 2 euros less than the new price eighteen years ago. Then she couldn’t resist comparing the rest of the receipt. “Of course everyone is talking about it now. Everything has become more expensive. And yet I was shocked by what I saw.”
Compare: 2005 and 2023
Van der Woude bought a number of products that she had also purchased eighteen years ago. “But they no longer have some products,” she says. “The chicken fillet I bought at the time came from the freezer. Nowadays you can only open kilo packs from the refrigerator. I make portions of that myself and then freeze them myself. At the time I paid 5.49 euros and now 9.79 euros. I don’t think the difference is that bad.”
In percentage terms, other products stand out more. “The pre-baked rolls, for example. At the time six baguettes for 22 cents, now 79 cents. The bottle of ketchup from Aldi was 0.45 euros at the time, now 1.09 euros. But the butter products really stood out. In 2005 I paid 0.32 euros for a tub of margarine and now it costs 1.19 euros. That is 272 percent more. It is even worse for baking and frying butter: 17 cents at the time and now 89 cents. That’s an increase of 424 percent!”
“The main reasons for this are of course inflation and increased costs,” says Babs van der Staak of the Consumers’ Association. “Consider increased raw material, energy, transport and labor costs. Everyone will have heard that.” So nothing new, but a shopping receipt like this makes this very tangible.
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On the left the Aldi voucher from 2005, on the right from September 2023. © Clarisse van der Woude
Salary rose less rapidly
Van der Woude also included her salary from 2005 and compared it with today’s salary. “My salary has increased by 104 percent. I have changed employers a few times. So I don’t know if that’s a normal increase in eighteen years. That’s why I included the current collective labor agreement of the employer at the time. If I had not changed jobs and moved to the top step within the same scale, my salary would have only increased by 26 percent. Apparently it pays to change employers every now and then.”
Yet there are also products that have not become more expensive. “The potatoes still cost 99 cents,” says Van der Woude. “Would the contents of the bag have become smaller? Unfortunately, we can no longer find that out.”
If there is less in a package and the price does not decrease, we call this shrinkflation. “Consumers are very annoyed by these kinds of sneaky price increases,” says Van der Staak. “We believe that manufacturers should be more transparent about this. When we ask why they make the packaging smaller, they give all kinds of reasons. For example, that the packaging is more sustainable, that they want to prevent waste or that costs have increased. But we want them to inform consumers more clearly on the packaging that the content has been adjusted.”
Buying behavior has changed
Van der Woude’s salary has therefore risen less rapidly than some groceries. Has she changed her purchasing behavior in the past eighteen years? ,,Certainly. For example, we no longer buy slices of cheese, but a block. Also no more grated cheese, we grate it ourselves and you can freeze it very well. My children really like cucumbers, we now grow them ourselves. That’s going well and the kids are having a lot of fun too.”
What is also new is the surcharge for plastic. “Nowadays I no longer buy the churned dessert, but I bought this one for comparison. In 2005 I paid 25 cents for it, now 55 cents. But that includes a 5 cent surcharge for plastic.”
Van der Staak: “This arises from a European directive, which aims to reduce the impact of disposable plastic on the environment and to reuse and recycle more plastic. It is not a tax, so the supermarket does not have to pay it to the government, but the intention is that they spend it on sustainability. We cannot say whether they actually do that. But it may well be that you pay a higher surcharge for plastic at one supermarket than at another supermarket.”
The Aldi receipt from 2005. © Clarisse van der Woude
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