Harmonised index of consumer prices - April 2023
- Belgium's inflation rate based on the European harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) stood at 3.3% in April compared to 4.9% in March and 5.4% in February.
- Core inflation (inflation without energy and unprocessed food) stood at 8.1% in April compared to 8.6% in March.
- The inflation rate based on the consumer price index (CPI) for April stood at 5.6% compared to 6.7% in March.
- The sub-indices with the largest upward effect on inflation were meat, dairy products, bread and cereals, restaurants and cafés, vegetables and clothing.
- On the other hand, gas, electricity, domestic heating oil, motor fuels, audio and video equipment and telecommunications were the sub-indices with the largest downward effect on inflation this month.
- The harmonised index of consumer prices of April for the EU Member States will be published by Eurostat on 17 May.
Belgium's inflation rate based on the European harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) stood at 3.3% in April compared to 4.9% in March and 5.4% in February. Inflation based on the harmonised index of consumer prices at constant tax rates (HICP-CT) was running at 1.3% in April, compared to 5.6% in March. The difference in inflation between the HICP and the HICP-CT is largely due to higher excise duty on electricity and gas. These price changes are not taken into account in the HICP-CT.
Core inflation, which does not take into account price evolutions of energy products and unprocessed food, stood at 8.1% in April, compared to 8.6% in March and 8.5% in February. Inflation without energy decreased to 8.4% in April, compared to 9.0% in March and 8.8% in February.
Food inflation now stands at 17.1% compared to 20.3% last month. This inflation has sharply increased in recent months. In April 2022, it was still 5.5%. Inflation for oils, fish, dairy products, bread and cereals and meat has sharply increased in recent months. Inflation for oils stands this month at 25.4%. In April last year, it was still 12.6%. For dairy products, inflation is now 26.2% compared to 6.1% in April 2022. Fish registers this month an inflation rate of 14.3%. In April last year, it was 6.4%. For bread and cereals, inflation stands at 16.7% this month compared to 8.4% in April 2022. Meat inflation amounts to 14.0% this month compared to 4.6% in April last year.
The decrease in inflation can be associated with lower energy prices. The contribution of energy to inflation is now negative, at -4.0%. Food products provide a contribution of 2.8%.
Electricity is now 20.4% less expensive than a year ago. Natural gas is 61.9% less expensive on an annual basis. Domestic heating oil prices have gone down by 31.3% compared to last year.
Inflation and effect on inflation for the 12 main groups
Based on the breakdown into 12 main groups, the highest inflation rate in April was measured for “Food and non-alcoholic beverages” (17.1%). The lowest inflation rate was measured for “Housing, water and energy” (-16.3%). The main group with the largest upward effect on inflation in April was “Food and non-alcoholic beverages” with an effect of 2.5 percentage points. The largest downward effect was measured for “Housing, water and energy” (-4.8 percentage points).
Inflation and effect on inflation for the overall HICP and 12 main groups
|Product group||Weight (‰)||Inflation on annual basis (%)||Effect on inflation (percentage point)|
|1||Food and non-alcoholic beverages||168.6||19.4||20.3||17.1||17.1||2.6||2.8||2.5|
|2||Alcoholic beverages and tobacco||53.5||8.9||8.9||9.3||7.4||0.2||0.2||0.3|
|3||Clothing and footwear||58.8||5.3||6.3||7.7||7.7||0.0||0.1||0.3|
|4||Housing, water and energy||171.8||-8.1||-9.7||-16.3||-25.4||-3.3||-3.6||-4.8|
|5||Interior decoration and household appliances||83.6||7.5||7.4||6.6||6.6||0.2||0.2||0.2|
|9||Recreation and culture||82.9||5.2||5.4||4.3||4.3||0.0||0.1||0.1|
|11||Hotels, cafés and restaurants||67.3||8.3||8.6||8.3||8.3||0.3||0.3||0.5|
|12||Various goods and services||84.0||7.0||7.1||6.5||6.5||0.1||0.2||0.3|
Inflation according to specific aggregates
The overall HICP can be broken down into five specific aggregates which together form the total expenditure.
- The inflation rate for fuels and energy sources decreased compared to the previous month. In April, it amounted to -27.1% compared to -19.2% in March and -14.7% in February. Prices declined by 11.3% on average compared to the previous month. The average inflation rate of this aggregate for the last twelve months is 32.3%.
- Inflation for processed food products decreased from 17.6% in March to 15.2% in April. In February, it was 16.9%. Prices decreased by 0.9% on average compared to the previous month. The average inflation rate for the last twelve months is 12.4%.
- Inflation for unprocessed food (fruit, vegetables, meat and fish) amounts to 15.4% in April compared to 17.5% in March and 16.6% in February. Prices decreased on average by 1.2% compared to March. The average inflation rate of this aggregate for the last twelve months is 12.0%.
- Inflation of non-energy industrial goods amounted to 6.5% April, a slight decrease compared to March. On average, prices have decreased by 0.2% compared to the previous month.
- For services (including rent), inflation slightly increased this month to 6.0%, compared to 5.9% in March. The average inflation rate of this aggregate for the last twelve months is 4.7%.
Core inflation (inflation without energy and unprocessed food) stood at 8.1% in April. This is a slight decrease compared to the 8.6% rate registered in March. Average core inflation over the last 12 months amounts to 6.6%. Prices of this subaggregate have increased by 0.1% compared to the previous month.
Inflation according to specific aggregates
|Specific aggregates||Weight (‰)||Inflation on annual basis (%)||12-month average (%)||Monthly change|
|Fuels and energy sources||107.5||-14.7||-19.2||-27.1||32.3||-11.3|
|Processed food products||178.0||16.9||17.6||15.2||12.4||-0.9|
|Non-energy industrial goods||271.6||6.7||7.0||6.5||5.4||-0.2|
|HICP without energy and unprocessed food (core inflation)||848.5||8.5||8.6||8.1||6.6||0.1|
Effect of sub-indices on inflation
The largest upward effect on inflation was caused by meat (0.45 percentage points). Dairy products had a positive effect of 0.43 percentage points. Bread and cereals had a positive effect of 0.42 percentage points. Restaurants and cafés had a positive effect of 0.40 percentage points. Vegetables had an effect of 0.29 percentage points. Clothing had a positive effect of 0.25 percentage points.
Sub-indices with the largest upward effect on inflation
|Sub-index||Weight (‰)||Effect on inflation (percentage point)|
|01.1.1||Bread and cereals||30.4||0.42|
|11.1.1||Cafés and restaurants||71.0||0.40|
The largest downward effect on inflation came from natural gas (-2.60 percentage points). Electricity provided a downward effect of -1.06 percentage points. Domestic heating oil provided a negative effect of -0.67 percentage points. Motor fuels had a negative effect of -0.26 percentage points. Audio and video equipment provided a downward effect of -0.06 percentage points. Finally, telecommunications provided a contribution of -0.05 percentage points.
Sub-indices with the largest downward effect on inflation
|Sub-index||Weight (‰)||Effect on inflation (percentage point)|
|04.5.3||Domestic heating oil||17.3||-0.67|
|09.1.1||Audio and video equipment||4.2||-0.06|
Comparison with neighbouring countries
Since the final HICP of the neighbouring countries will not be published until later, comparisons can only be made based on the first HICP flash estimate for April. This inflation amounted to 3.3% in April in Belgium. The Netherlands registered an inflation rate of 5.9% in April. This is an increase compared to the 4.5% rate registered in March. This inflation in France in April amounted to 6.9%, slightly up from 6.7% in March. The first HICP flash estimate for April in Germany was 7.6%, a slight decrease compared to March when it was 7.8%.
Since the HICP at constant tax rates for April are not yet published by Eurostat, March is the most recent month to use as a basis for comparison. Belgium's inflation rate based on the HICP-CT stood at 5.6% in March, down from a rate of 6.8% in February. In March, this inflation in Germany was running at 8.0%, down from the rate of 9.6% registered in February. In March, inflation in France slightly decreased to 6.7%, compared to 7.3% in February. In the Netherlands, inflation decreased to 4.8% in March. In February, this inflation was 9.1%.
 In addition to the national consumer price index (CPI), Statbel also calculates a European harmonised consumer price index (Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, HICP). The HICP is used to compare inflation rates in the EU Member States. To this end, the applied expenditure approach and methods have been coordinated as much as possible and laid down in European regulations. The results of the CPI and HICP are not the same. This is mainly due to a different weighting and composition of the basket of goods and services on which these indices are based.
The HICP is also used by the European Central Bank in its monetary policy. Additionally, the HICP is used to determine to what extent a Member State meets the inflation criteria set in the Treaty on European Union.
Differences between the HICP and the current CPI are:
- The weighting of the basket of goods and services in the HICP is mainly based on the national accounts. At lower detailed levels the Household Budget Survey is used. The CPI mostly uses the Household Budget Survey at all levels.
- The reference population of the HICP consists of private households (including tourists in Belgium) and institutional households (e.g. retirement homes and nursing homes). In the CPI, this population currently consists of private households with a reference person under a maximum age.
- The HICP uses the concept of domestic expenditure: expenditure in Belgium by the reference population. The CPI uses the concept of national expenditure: expenditure by the reference population irrespective of the location.
- Seasonal adjustment is not applied in the HICP, but is applied in the CPI to travels abroad and stays in holiday villages.
- Sales periods have been neutralised in the CPI , but are included in the same month in the HICP.
- Current prices for domestic heating oil are used in the HICP calculation. A weighted 12-month average is applied in the CPI calculation.
 The HICP-CT is calculated in the same way as the regular HICP, but the prices in this index are calculated based on constant tax rates. This index therefore reflects the theoretically potential effect of changes in indirect tax rates (such as VAT or excise duties) on measured inflation. However, this is a theoretical effect, since it presupposes that tax changes are immediately and entirely reflected in prices paid by consumers.
 Inflation on annual basis measures the price changes between the current month and the same month of the year before. A 12-month average compares the average HICP of the last 12 months with the average of the previous 12 months. A monthly change compares the price levels of the last two months.
 The effect on inflation shows the changes on the inflation rate by including the sub-index in the HICP. The effect not only takes the weight of the sub-index into account, but it also takes into account whether the sub-index inflation is higher or lower than that of the total expenditure (overall HICP).
Purpose and brief description
The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) is an economic indicator designed to measure over time the price evolution of goods and services purchased by households. The HICP therefore allows for a comparable measurement of inflation in the euro area, the EU, the European Economic Area and for all other countries including candidate countries for the European Union. The HICP is calculated in a harmonised manner and on the basis of common concepts. The HICP is the official measure of inflation in the euro area to enable the European Central Bank to conduct its monetary policy.
Final expenditure of households living on Belgian territory.
Results available 15 days after the reference period
Harmonised consumer price index (HICP): The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) was created in 1997 in order to have a comparable measurement of the inflation among the participating countries of the future euro area. Since the inception of the euro, the HICP has been one of the European Central Bank's (ECB) most important measuring instruments in the conduct of its monetary policy. The collected prices are those actually borne by the consumers, including for example taxes on products, such as value added tax, and take into account the sales periods.
Inflation: Inflation is defined as the ratio between the value of the consumer price index of a given month and the index of the same month the year before. Therefore, inflation measures the rhythm of the evolution of the overall price level.
COICOP; COICOP is a nomenclature, developed by the United Nations, that aims to classify individual consumption expenditures of households according to purpose.
Harmonised Index at constant tax rates: The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices at constant tax rates is derived from the HICP and is calculated by keeping the level of indirect taxes (mainly excise duties and VAT) constant compared to the level observed in December of the previous year. This index allows measuring the maximum effect on the inflation of changes in taxes by assuming that they are directly and fully passed on to the final price paid by consumers.
Weighing: Weight in the basket of goods and services determined by the results of the national accounts (expenditure optics) and those of the household budget survey.
Inflation at constant tax rates: Inflation is defined as the ratio between the value of the consumer price index of a given month and the index of the same month the year before. Therefore, inflation measures the rhythm of the evolution of the overall price level.
- Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices.pdf
- Monthly survey of consumer prices by surveyors in stores.pdf
- 'Private rents' survey.pdf
- 'Social rents' survey.pdf
- Other various sources (Internet, catalogues, scanner data, ...).pdf