San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Study Reveals Disparity In C.R. Product Prices

The Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade (MEIC) this week released the results of a study that examined the price variations of 37 basic household products in the Central Valley. The study selected 32 basic food items, as well as five non-food items, and charted the differences in their prices during the week of Oct. 13 to 19.

The ministry monitored the prices of staples such as rice, beans, coffee, sugar, flour, bread, margarine, milk, deodorant, soap and toilet paper at 18 stores in the cities of San José, Heredia, Cartago and Alajuela. The stores included in the survey were Palí, Hipermás, Megasúper, Más x Menos and Auto Mercado, as well as several others. The prices of identical products of the same brand and appearance – as well as identical products under different brand names – were monitored.

According to the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC), the products in the study were identified as the “most sensitive” products from the consumer point of view. Each month, INEC tracks the price variations of 292 products and services to determine the country’s inflation rate.

“These basic consumer products are very important and have a significant impact on the family budget,” said Eduardo Sibaja, minister of MEIC. “If heads of families know the best places to shop, they can save up to 13 percent of their budget.”

Some of the most dramatic price variations of similar products under different name brands were observed in the prices of bologna, hot dogs, ham and vegetable oil. At the Super Víquez in Santa Barbara, bologna under the Tiquica name brand sells for ¢390 per 250 grams. At the Jumbo Supermercado in Alajuela, Zar bologna sells or ¢1,518 per 250 grams. The percentage difference in the two types of bologna is over 289 percent.

The biggest variance in prices of the same product with the same name brand was observed in the price of black beans and coffee. At the Galerón de las Ofertas in Alajuela, a 900-gram can of black beans sells for ¢862.19. At the Megasuper in Santa María de Dota in Cartago, the same can of beans sells for ¢1,066, a difference of ¢203.81.

The study also concluded that the best prices for “basic consumer” products could be found at the Palí in Tres Ríos, the Hipermás in Heredía and the Palí in Desamparados.


–Adam Williams


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