Where are the best places to buy cheap food and drink in the EU?

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The Independent Online

Eurostat released a report Monday detailing the comparative costs of food and alcohol across the EU member states in 2009; as Calais, France loses popularity, where are now the best places for consumers to stock up on bargain alcohol, tobacco and food?

Taken as an average, Eurostat found that Denmark was the most expensive country for food and non-alcoholic beverages, 40 percent above the EU average on comparable goods. Ireland, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Germany and France ranged from 10 to 30 percent above the EU average while the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom amongst others were 10 percent below average. Bulgaria, Romania and Poland were the cheapest countries across the EU, where a basket of comparable goods cost between 30 and 40 percent below the EU average.

France, comparatively more expensive than the UK, on soft drinks and food, is also no longer the destination for cross-channel tourists in pursuit of cheap alcohol. Earlier this month the BBC noted that the so-called ‘booze cruise', trips taken by British tourists to France in order to buy cheap wine, was in decline due in part to lower supermarket prices in the UK and a weak pound.

UK-based international supermarket chain Tesco's recently announced the closure of its Vin Plus store in Calais, Oddbins, a British high street and wholesale wine merchant, also shut its Calais outfit earlier this year and reports claim that UK grocery chain Sainsbury's will do the same in the coming weeks.  

With Calais no longer as popular, the best destinations for consumers in search of bargain alcohol and cheaper food are now: the Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria where alcoholic beverages are between 77 and 69 percent of the EU average, meaning that consumers pay 77 percent for example of the average cost of the product. Portugal is one of the cheapest places to buy tobacco at 52 percent of the EU average and Poland at 64 percent is one of the least expensive places to buy food and non-alcoholic beverages.