The Walmart retail chain accuses the Ministry of Economy of Costa Rica of not carrying out adequate controls to avoid the practice of selling rice with another product added as a gift, known as ‘bandeo”.

The price of rice in Costa Rica is fixed by law.

The practice reported by Walmart before the Contentious-Administrative Court on June 20, in which the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC) is accused of not controlling the “bandeo” and that is prohibited by a decree that has been in force since April 4, 2017.

Yolanda Fernández, manager of Corporate Affairs at Walmart, explained that “… that chain has never been against the “bandeo” and that even in 2017 it filed another complaint before the Contentious Court against the MEIC decree that prohibited that practice. That process is pending.”

Fernandez added that “… The problem is that the bandeo was banned in that 2017 decree, but many businesses continue practicing it, breaking the rule. It’s better for us to allow it, but we’re not going to violate the current rule that prohibits them.”

In Costa Rica, rice has a price fixed by law and although distributors import it at a lower price, even paying the 35% tariff, it must be sold at the value fixed by law.

Attaching or ‘banding’ a free product to the rice package the retailer can entice the consumer towards a particular brand of rice without affecting the price set by law.