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Coming Holy Week brings huge price spikes in seafood

March 24, 2015

Prices on some goods popular among Catholic Ticos this time of year have spiked more than 200 percent, Costa Rica’s Economy Ministry (MEIC) found.

Ahead of Holy Week, MEIC released results of a price survey of goods whose consumption usually increases during the religious holiday, such as canned and fresh fish.

The price for a box of Madrigal sardines in some stores is up 253 percent, the survey found.

The Economy Ministry found increases of up to 231 percent in the price of canned calamari, 150 percent in tuna, and 132 percent in palm hearts. Officials recommended consumers compare not only prices, but also pay close attention to served versus drained sizes on labels.

Big price differences are also evident among fresh seafood. The study found prices rose up to 148 percent for tilapia fillets, 100 percent for corvina and 60 percent for shrimp.

“Well-informed consumers will result in more efficient markets where prices will reflect the actual costs of each good,” Economy Minister Welmer Ramos González said, perhaps optimistically, at Monday’s presentation of the study results.

“Our study aims to close a gap in information to help consumers make better purchasing decisions during this season,” he said.

The Economy Ministry’s study was carried out at 40 supermarkets in the provinces of San José, Heredia, Alajuela and Cartago between March 9 and 12. In total MEIC’s inspectors surveyed prices of 29 products whose consumption increases during Holy Week, when Catholics traditionally avoid meat.

Study results, including the full list of supermarkets surveyed, goods, price comparisons and recommendations for consumers, can be found at MEIC’s website (Spanish only).

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