08 August 2023, by Victoria Séveno

The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs has announced that she will investigate why retailers based in the Netherlands often face higher purchase prices than similar businesses in other EU countries, resulting in higher prices for customers. 

Why are prices in the Netherlands higher than in other EU countries?

According to the National Retail Council of MKB-Nederland, the Central Bureau for Food Trade (CBL) and the Dutch Retail Trade Council (RND), distributors and retailers based in the Netherlands – including supermarkets, drugstores, pharmacies, and electronics stores – face “territorial supply restrictions”, which in turn force them to buy from suppliers that don’t necessarily offer the lowest prices.

As a consequence, shoppers in the Netherlands can face higher prices for products than consumers in other EU countries. For example, as NOS reports, while a litre of Coca-Cola costs around 1,50 euros in a Dutch supermarket, shoppers can buy the same product for 1,07 euros in Germany.

In addition to these restrictions, there are various factors that contribute to these price differences, including tax rates and EU regulations which stipulate that labelling on products sold in a country must be in a language understood by those living in the country. For example, retailers in the Netherlands must ensure that all labels are in Dutch and can’t buy products from Germany – with German labels – at a lower price and sell them to Dutch customers.

Dutch government looking into supply and purchasing restrictions

In response to a letter sent by the National Retail Council CBL and RND in May 2023, Minister Micky Adriaansens has confirmed that the government is “conducting a study in which the scope of territorial supply restrictions in the Netherlands will be explained in more detail.” Adriaansens writes that the results of the government’s study will be published this winter.

The retail groups are calling for new legislation that would prohibit these “territorial supply restrictions”, allowing for products in the Netherlands to be sold at more reasonable prices. According to research conducted by the European Commission in 2020, lifting purchasing restrictions in the bloc could save consumers up to 14,1 billion euros.

Thumb: Monika Boncuk via Shutterstock.com.

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