“Will be watching for any kind of price collusion” – Secretary of State
If rising food prices have anything to do with supermarket and hypermarket chains operating ‘price collusion’ (and it won’t be the first time), the government means to weed it out.
This was the gist of an interview yesterday with Secretary of State for Tourism, Commerce and Services Nuno Fazenda, who explained ASAE (economic and food safety agency) will be intensifying checks on food sales outlets up and down the country since it has become uncomfortably clear that prices have risen way beyond the level of inflation.
Mr Fazenda told Rádio Observador that if shopping centres sell products “at prices that may be manifestly excessive”, this will reverberate on the economy. It is a practice, in the end, that “does not favour anyone”.
The results from last week’s ‘swoops’ on food retailers saw the opening of 10 criminal proceedings and 12 administrative offence proceedings.
The 38 brigades, which inspected 123 supermarkets “found situations such as different prices between the shelf and the checkout, and cases of products being underweight (under the weight specified)”, said the secretary of State.
Nuno Fazenda told the stations that “investigation is also being done on pricing structure to analyse the whole chain (…) any commercial practices that are not compatible with a healthy economy”.
Again, he stressed the need for ‘economic operators’ to understand the advantages of “a healthy economy (…) prices that Portuguese families can afford”; increasing foods by 40%, 50% even 70% (as cases have found) will not help anyone.