Don’t Expect Food Savings Before, During Semana Santa

March 26, 2010

Expecting an increased flow of consumers during Easter Holy Week, area grocery stores have increased prices on food items and other household products by an average of 8.67 percent, according to a study conducted by the Economy Ministry.

During the week of March 3 to 8, members of the Economy Ministry surveyed the prices of 18 different products at 16 area grocery stores in the Central Valley. The survey charted price differences among “identical products,” meaning those of the same brand and presentation, as well as “similar products,” those that offer the same product under different brand names.

“This type of study allows us to identify the behavior of prices and to check to see if the market is seeing healthy competition,” said Economy Minister Eduardo Sibaja. “It also offers the consumer a reference point and shows them the significant savings that are available when making buying decisions.”

The study compared the prices of tuna, sardines, pickles, peaches, fruit cocktail, canned salmon, canned seafood, dried cod, honey, sugar and other food products. In comparing the prices of “similar products,” the survey revealed that several items had a price difference of over 100 percent. The highest discovered price difference between wo similar products was for a can of sardines.

At the Perimercado Terramall in Cartago, a can of Del Monte sardines cost ¢620 colones, while at the Auto Mercado in Moravia, a can of Albo sardines cost ¢2,550. The ¢1,930-price difference represents a 311 percent disparity in the cost of the two similar products.

The largest price disparity within “identical product” offerings was observed in the cost of a can of Sardimar sardines in tomatoes. At the Jumbo Supermercado in Alajuela, a 240-gram can sold for ¢1,170. At the Mas x Menos in Paseo de las Flores in Heredia, the same-sized can was priced at 2,338, for a price variation of 99 percent.

At the conclusion of the study, the Economy Ministry revealed that the lowest prices for the surveyed products were found at the Palí Pacífico in Alajuela, the Palí Tres Ríos, the Bodega La Unión Tres Ríos, Galerón de las Ofertas in Guadalupe, the Perimercado in Tres Ríos, the Jumbo in Alajuela and Maxibodega in Desamparados.

The grocery stores with the highest prices of the surveyed products included the Megasuper at the Real Cariari shopping center in Heredia, the Auto Mercado in Moravia, the Mas x Menos in Paseo de as Flores, the Perimercado Tres Ríos, the Hipermás in Oreamuno in Cartago, the Más x Menos in San Pedro and the Auto Mercado Escazú.

The 8.67 percent increase in prices is down from a 25.06 percent increase ahead of last year’s Holy Week.

–Adam Williams

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