A fifth of inflation in 2022 caused by increased company profits: Rabobank

May 6, 2023  -Rabobank economists have calculated that Dutch businesses profited last year from a period of high inflation by increasing prices more than necessary, reports the Telegraaf. It says that, as a whole, Dutch companies increased prices by more than 2% more than they needed to do in 2022, effectively ratcheting up their profit margin.

‘If companies had not increased their selling prices beyond what would have been minimally necessary to maintain their profit, the increase in selling prices in 2022 could theoretically have been 2.2% lower,’ the report said. This profiteering – or ‘grab’ margin in Dutch – is responsible for a fifth of total inflation last year, the Rabobank calculates.

In 2022, average prices for consumers rose by 11.6%. Some of this was due to increased energy and raw material costs but some of it, the economists concludes, was profiteering. ‘The bill for inflation has fallen into the consumer’s lap: that is a fact,’ economists Hugo Erken and Stefan Groot told the Telegraaf. ‘We see that profits are quite substantial and the profit ratio has increased, especially in the fourth quarter of 2022. Initially, the idea was that companies should partly reduce their profit margins.

’ The Rabobank calculations are based on CBS statistics. In 2022, companies made a record €238 billion, while buying in less energy and raw materials. Gas use, for instance, dropped by some 25% year-on-year in the last three months of the year. Rabo calculates that even including the cost of higher wages, annual company profits rose by €10 billion at the end of 2022. A spokesman for Ahold Delhaize, owner of the biggest Dutch supermarket group Albert Heijn, told Dutch News that almost two-thirds of its 2022 profit was down to its activities in the US. The company’s operating profit in Europe fell almost 14% last year, the spokesman said.

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