QCOSTARICA – Easter is one of the two major Christian holidays and means different things to different people.
For retailers, Easter means consumer spending, including apparel, decorations, gifts, candy, flowers and food.
In Costa Rica, the typical Easter food products sought by consumers include sardines, tuna, canned palm and fruit cocktails.
But, consumers beware.
A recent survey by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade (Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio – MEIC) reveals a price difference of up to 152% on the same product, from one supermarket to another.
MEIC minister, Welmer Ramos, said for the price comparison, officials visited some 40 supermarkets in San José, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago, reviewing 29 products.
The Director of Consumer Support of the MEIC, Cynthia Zapata, explained price differences of up to ¢695 colones for a can of Madrigal sardines and ¢1.015 for a tin of Monarch fruit cocktail, while a tin of Calvo tuna had a price difference of up to ¢390 at different supermarkets.
Prices of fresh products can vary greatly. Zapata said that a kilogram of fresh tilapia filet can range from ¢3.800 to ¢9.430 colones. Prices of whole Mackerel can vary from as low as ¢2.300 to as high as ¢6.325 per kilo.
Another find of the survey is a decrease in the content in canned goods. For example, Sardimar is now marketing a “medium” container of tuna with 105 grams of content, while in 2014 the content was 120 grams, leading consumers to believe in a price drop.
The MEIC advises consumers to check the labels and the price per unit, when making comparisons.
We all have a favourite supermarket. In Costa Rica, however, a favourite can be a number of supermarkets, one for selection, another for the variety of products, and yet another for price.
For example, the upper scale supermarket Auto Mercado will carry a larger variety of imported products, but is not well known for lower every day prices, while Mas x Menos offers better prices, but not the same variety. For excellent pricing, there are the Palí stores, with limited variety and paying for bags at checkout.