Local Daily News 1st November

The rise in electricity and fuels makes shopping basket staples more expensive by 30%

Lamb, chicken, and seafood now cost 20-30% more than a few months ago. Salad tomatoes have increased in price by 17%, pears and apples have seen an increase of 15% and olive oil is 20% more expensive than a few months ago. Water, soft drinks and juices are 10% more expensive, and artichokes are on the market at three times the price they were a year ago. The list of staple foods increasing in price is lengthening due to the rising cost of raw materials, problems in the supply chain and the rise in energy costs, which affect the costs of transport and what it costs to get the fishing boats out. Although direct sellers try not to have an impact, their costs are raised at the source. The fishermen and butchers unions of the markets, the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations, and the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors agree that “the worst is yet to come”, which is why a big Christmas campaign is expected. “We are concerned and expectant”, states Pedro Reig, director of the Association of Supermarkets of the Valencian Community (Asucova). The sectoral associations recommend advancing Christmas food purchases in anticipation of a shortage (which markets and supermarkets still deny) dragged by the critical situation of the global market. Consumers are already doing this with seafood, in anticipation of its rising cost.

Inflation soared 5.5% in October compared to the same month in 2020, its highest level in almost three decades (1992), basically due to the rise in electricity and fuel prices, according to data published this week by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Global problems in supply chains, collapse in ports, and insufficient containers to meet demand also play a role. 

Red shrimp, crayfish and shrimp have already risen in price by 30%. Added to the reasons already described is the biological break period of the main fishermen’s associations in the province, Santa Pola and La Vila, as well as Almería and Huelva, “and the forecast between now and Christmas is that seafood will increase in price even more, because there will not be much quantity either”, points out Evaristo López, representative of the fishmongers’ union of the Central Market of Alicante, where also hake, turbot and aquaculture salmon have become more expensive by 10%. Adolfo López, who now offers red prawns from Calp at his stand, points out that in October they were 60 euros per kilo and right now they cost 30% more.

The meats are not spared either. Chicken, with a 10% increase in price, and lamb, with an average of 20% increase, are the consumer products that are becoming more expensive. “With covid, the hospitality industry stopped and prices were maintained to avoid surpluses. Now that there is more demand in general, there are fewer products and they become more expensive with the rise in electricity and fuels”, says José Manuel Abellán, member of the Alicante Markets Association. In his case, he brings lamb from Burgos and free-range chicken from Huesca. Its transportation is now more expensive.

Fruits and vegetables are 10-15% more expensive than last year, with products like artichokes and chanterelles now worth three times as much. A kilo of artichokes can exceed four euros and mushrooms are sold for up to 12 euros per kilo, which also has to do with the fact that it is a highly valued product that needs humidity and cool temperatures that have not yet arrived, points out Francisco Alemañ, president of the Alicante markets dealers.

The Confederation of Commerce fears that, in a context in which there is accumulated savings, the excessive rise in prices, fueled by the increase in energy costs and the rising cost of raw materials, could reduce the purchasing power of consumers and directly affect consumption and retail trade, already impacted by the general increase in the price of the shopping basket staples as a result of the rise in the CPI.

Hosbec places the sector "far from a total recovery" after analyzing the tourist figures for the summer

Hosbec assures that the tourism sector is still “far from a full recovery” after collecting the main data on hotel activity in the Valencian Community and in the different tourist points of interest during the months of July, August and September. In the last summer, the region has seen a reduction of more than 23% of hotel overnight stays, has lost 13% of tourists and almost 20% of employed personnel, according to this third-quarter analysis published. The summer season left 5% of establishments unable to reopen their doors, representing 8.4% of beds. Hosbec asks the Generalitat to make the recovery of activity and employment in the 2022 budgets a “priority”.

Benidorm is – in view of the data – the destination that has suffered the most during this first summer with a “new normality”. The data of the employer’s association reflect a loss of 42.4% of hotel overnight stays in this municipality, the main cause being the loss of tourists. National tourism has maintained figures close to those of 2019, but Hosbec assures that the absence of the international market has marked the summer quarter in the tourist capital of the Costa Blanca.

Almost 21% of the hotel beds in Benidorm have been closed during this summer, and 28% of the employed personnel remained in a situation of ERTE or inactivity, the report points out.

The positive side is that Benidorm has the longest average stay among the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Castellón, with 4.2 days, and the average hotel occupancy for the months of July, August and September was 72.5 %.

Along with the publication of the data collected in a statement, Hosbec asks the Generalitat “that its first priority be to guarantee the recovery of activity and employment for the 2022 budgets.”

The province of Alicante as a whole has seen its hotel activity decrease by 28% (overnight stays), due to the significant drop in international tourism.

Although national tourists have increased by 10%, their stays have been shorter and therefore the overnight stays of Spaniards have remained 1% below the 2019 data. Tourists from outside Spain are those who have been absent most, as reflected in the report. Although it is true that 2020 figures have improved, the business of foreigners in hotels has fallen by 58% this summer.

11% of the hotel beds on the Costa Blanca have not been able to open, although they correspond to only 2% of hotels, and 20% of workers have not been able to go back to their jobs.

Hosbec highlights that the Costa Blanca, despite this data, collects more than 50% of all hotel activity in the Valencian Community.

The data shows that the sector has not entered a spiral of low prices and offers: the average rates have grown over 2019 in general terms, and there are destinations that have even benefited with revenues per available room higher than in 2019. It is the case of Elche and the city of Alicante.

However, Hosbec assures that the tourism situation in the city of Valencia states that “there is no margin for adventures of tourist taxes or similar inventions”: the average rate in the city has dropped 4 euros, from €93 in 2019 to €89 in 2021, and revenue per available room has fallen by almost €12, from €82 in 2019 to €70.5 in 2021.

Benidorm is the first Valencian destination to appear in the top20 ranking for hotel overnight stays: it ranks sixth with 2.18 million overnight stays.

By degree of hotel occupancy during the month of August, Dénia, in fifth place, is the first regional destination in this national ranking with 89.4%; Elche ranks thirteenth, with 86.6%; Alicante in the fifteenth, with 85.9% and Benidorm appears in the nineteenth position, with 83.6%.

Eating disorders and obsession with health increase up to 50% during the pandemic

Eating disorders and obsession with health have increased by up to 50% since the start of the pandemic. Isolation and changes in habits have fostered these mental health problems, which mainly affect young people. Experts point to weight loss, excessive exercise, bad moods or even insomnia as possible symptoms that can alert families.

Eating disorders are diseases that sometimes put the life of the person who suffers them at risk. They are characterized by abnormalities in eating habits that can involve both insufficient and excessive food intakes and affect physical and emotional health. Young people between 12 and 24 years of age suffer the most and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a mental health problem that affects women the most.

Being a perfectionist and highly demanding, going through puberty while overweight, advertising campaigns for countless weight loss products, social networks or living with a family concerned about image and appearance are factors that can predispose to this type of disorder, but if we also add social isolation due to the pandemic, anguish and fear of not knowing what will happen, changes in eating habits and overexposure to social networks, “we are facing a significant increase in cases.”

The doctor in psychology Yolanda Quiles works at the CREA center, specialized in the treatment of eating disorders located in Elche, details that since November 2020 “we began to notice an upturn in calls to receive advice and care for new patients”.

In her case, she is the first to meet with those affected and assures that “it is surprising that everyone repeats the same phrase: ‘this all started in lockdown’.” During the months of total isolation, young people were the ones who most changed their way of life, the ones who most closed in on themselves and the ones who took refuge in social networks, adopting in many cases behaviors that they copied from influencers. And it was after the summer of 2020 when “the signs of the disease became apparent,” says Quiles.

Weight loss, notable increase in physical activity, isolation, bad mood, concentration problems, insomnia, loss of menstruation… the list of symptoms is extensive, says Dr. Herminia Hernaiz, a specialist in clinical psychology. “You have to separate the emotional and behavioral, such as changes in behavior or obsession with weight or diets, with the physical, loss of size, fainting, feeling cold, sleep disorders …”.

Despite the fact that it is a mental health problem that mainly affects young people aged between 12 and 24 years old, experts differentiate between a first group that would go from 12 to 17 and a second from 18 to 24. According to the statistics that Hernaiz quotes, since the beginning of the pandemic “there are a third more” cases in the first group, while the increase in the second is around 35%.

Yolanda Quiles, based on data on care at the CREA center, raises the increase in eating disroders to 50% and explains that in 2020 they received 70 requests for advice compared to “the 146 we have in 2021”. Another outstanding figure is the age of what is known as “debut”, the onset of the disease, since “it was 14 years old and we are finding that it is going down to 12 years.”

This psychologist insists that “in 8 years we have not found such a high increase in cases” and assures that “it is generalized”, since “we have contacted other units and resources, both public and private, and they are the same as us” .

 

Obsessions to eat healthy and exercise have also increased, and in some cases have become an added factor in suffering from an eating disorder. “It is clear that eating healthy and physical activity promote health and well-being, but when these habits become an obsession they stop producing that well-being,” insists Herminia Hernaiz.

In recent times there is much talk of eating foods that are not processed, without additives –  a “fad” that has helped specialists to detect other types of problems, but which, according to Yolanda Quiles, has also caused eating disorders to be “camouflaged” and cost more to detect. An example is that “if your daughter asks you to prepare fruit for breakfast instead of a sandwich, you may think it is a healthy habit,” but in the end there may be a serious problem behind it, Quiles insists.

The WHO highlights that eating disorders continue to affect women to a greater extent. In the CREA center, according to Yolanda Quiles, “9 out of 10 patients are girls”, and it is that “in men the ideal of beauty is not so thin, they have it more associated with a muscular body.”

Despite the fact that anorexia is the best known disorder, Quiles assures that “bulimia is more frequent” and, sometimes, it takes longer to diagnose because “such a thin body does not exist”. The psychologist insists on the seriousness of this disorder, since people who suffer from it experience purging episodes that lead to “very serious problems in the digestive system.”

The doctor in psychology Yolanda Quiles explains that a person with an eating disorder takes an average of two years to recover, a time that, she emphasizes, “depends a lot on each case” and on the phase in which the problem is detected. However, Quiles recalls that these types of disorders “are serious mental health problems” that in most cases require the help of different specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists and nutritionists.

Also Dr. Herminia Heraiz, a specialist in clinical psychology, insists on the importance of “the immediate present”, since consulting with specialists prematurely can even “avoid the problem.” The pediatrician or family doctor, depending on age, may be a first option. “They have resources to diagnose the disorder and refer other professionals if they consider it.”

A tourist finds 40 kilos of hashish on the shore of La Mata beach

Last Thursday, the Local Police of Torrevieja intercepted a bundle with more than 40 kilos of hashish on the beach of La Mata, in the vicinity of the pier. The agents were responding to the call of a French tourist who was walking through this area of ​​La Mata beach, located next to the square and center of the urban area of ​​the district.

The man was walking through this coastal area at around 2:00 on Thursday. He explained that there were several loose packages, wrapped in dark colored plastic, stuck to the watchtower of the La Mata pier. And that he suspected it might be drugs. He then called the local police.

A patrol went to the place quickly, so as to avoid giving anyone the chance to remove the packages before they were seized because the witness spoke of one of them being already open.

The patrol found more loose packages that weighed a total of more than 40 kilos in the vicinity of the beach and the tower, next to the Plaza de Encarnación Pujol. In total a package of 20 kilos, another of just over 10, nine small ones weighing little more than a kilo and the one that was already opened with less than a kilo. The Civil Guard has taken over the investigation.



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