One in two Greeks fast during Holy Week and one in eight during the 40-day period of Lent ahead of Orthodox Easter, according to a study released this week by Greece’s Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA).

More specifically, according to the IELKA survey carried out on March 2-8 on a countrywide sample of 800 consumers, 47% of Greeks fast during Holy Week and 12 percent during the 40-day Lent period creating a large demand and market for fasting products.

The figure has declined since 2018 when an IELKA study found 69% of Greeks fasting in the runup to Easter.

Study analysts estimate that 3% of retail food sales, valued at some 550 million euros, concern or are linked to fasting products.

Other key takeaways of the study include:

-55% believe fasting is good for their health

-34% said fasting products are more expensive

-33% said they enjoyed fasting

– products consumed more during fasting period include fruits and vegetables, salads, nuts, and pasta

– the majority (75%) of fasting consumers prefer shopping for food products at supermarkets due to the variety of available products while 58%  cited lower prices, followed by 15% who prefer the “laiki” open-air markets.

In an attempt to put a brake on the constantly rising prices of basic goods, the Greek Development Ministry will be launching its  ‘Lenten Period Basket’ initiative (known in Greek as the ‘kalathi tis Sarakostis’) tomorrow (March 13) with Lenten products at fixed prices.