Government “studying urgent measures to clamp down on rising food prices”
Inflation for February has eased to 8.2%, meaning inflation has fallen for the 4th consecutive month – but prices of food, particularly in large supermarkets/ hypermarkets continue to climb.
Explains Lusa, the unprocessed foodstuffs index registered a change of 20.1%, up from 18.5% in January; “the highest rate since May 1990“.
ASAE inspectors are actively ‘on the ground’, checking for unreasonable price increases/ potential ‘cartel-type activity’, while the government is described today as “studying various urgent solutions to stop the price increases”.
Temporary reductions in IVA are one of the possibilities; others include getting large distributors to pledge not to increase a selection of ‘essential items’.
But as media stories of ASAE’s swoops swirl, distributors themselves are reported to have ‘declared war on the government’.
“It is important to tell the truth to the Portuguese people” says a statement issued by APED, the Portuguese association of distribution companies.
“The distribution sector is purchasing increasingly expensive products, even in 2023, from suppliers (industry and production). These increases at the beginning of the (distribution) chain reflect rising input costs arising from increases in fertiliser prices, feed prices and other relevant costs”.
APED gives the example of milk: “Milk is 75% more expensive in shops, precisely the increase that suppliers have passed to distribution”.
As tabloid Correio da Manhã stresses, before APED’s statement, minister of the economy António Costa Silva had said the government was “looking at all options, including the toughest (for example ‘price setting’) but we want to adopt measures in possession of all information received”.
He professed not to be a fan of setting prices, as “very often this does not have the desired effect”.
The ideal, said the minister, would be to agree to a phase in which the system and operators within it respond and assume “social responsibility to create hampers of essential goods at lower prices (…) advertising the essential products that they sell in a way that is more in line with what consumers expect”.
Correio da Manhã adds that during yesterday’s inspections by ASAE in food retail outlets, price differences between the advertised price and the price paid at the checkout varied between 4% and 39%.
These kind of reports however further infuriate APED, whose president Gonçalo Lobo Xavier has said it is “unacceptable” for the government/ media to give the impression that it is supermarkets that are responsible for rising food prices.