With renewed impetus and despite previous failures, the Secretariat of Commerce, led by Matías Tombolini, will formalize this Thursday "Neighborhood Fair Prices", which consists of a basket with almost 100 basic products with regulated prices for stores, self-services and proximity shops. In this first stage, the program will be valid until July 31. Prices "will remain fixed for 45 days and from July 15 will have a ceiling increase of 3.8%," explained an official source.
So far, Tombolini reached agreements with thirty manufacturers (Arcor, Mastellone, Unilever, Mondelez, Colgate and Nestlé) to form a basket of 97 items of mass consumption (food, beverages, toiletries and cleaning), which will be offered throughout the country by wholesale chains and large distributors, including Vital, Maxiconsumo, Diarco, Yaguar, Parodi, Makro, Micropack and Nini.
The list, which Clarín accessed and which may undergo last-minute modifications, details brands, formats, factory exit prices and the final price, which changes according to the area of the country. "In some regions, values are higher for logistical reasons," explained a private sector source.
For example, a package of Chocolinas cookies of 262 grams, has a factory cost of $ 169.81 to be sold wholesale at $ 255.94. In the points of sale of the AMBA it will cost $ 341.25 and in the rest of the Province of Buenos Aires, $ 353.2. In the Center and the Coast it will be $ 360.02; in the north, at $365.14 and in Patagonia, at $368.55. These maximum values will be frozen until mid-July, official sources say.
The Secretary of Commerce promises to publish the complete list on the Internet this Thursday. So far, the basket contains warehouse products (rice, oil, flour, tomato puree, jams and breadcrumbs, for example), toiletries (deodorants, shampoo, soap, conditioner and disposable diapers), cleaning (laundry soap, cleaners), dairy, soft drinks, beers and drinking yogurts, among many others.
This new version of "Neighborhood Fair Prices" (such is the name that appears on the list) expresses the enormous official concern about the inflationary escalation of recent months. In April, the cost of living climbed to 8.4%, due to the rise in seasonal products (12.8%) and food and beverages, which stood at 10.8%. The consultants estimate a floor of 9% for May and that inflation will remain high in June as well.
The numbers reflect the limited and null effectiveness of the Fair Prices program to establish reference prices and cushion the constant rise in prices. Companies are wary of this new attempt to extend regulated prices, which are now concentrated in large supermarket chains, to smaller businesses. The fear is the difficulty in controlling supply levels and sales prices in supermarkets, warehouses, stores and fairs throughout the country.
Paula Español (with Super Cerca) and in 2020 Roberto Feletti (+ Care Prices), two of Tombolini's predecessors, had already tried unsuccessfully in 2021. Both initiatives foundered for the same reason: the notorious lack of products.
Fair Prices today covers a universe of 25,000 products, which today have a maximum increase of 5% per month, divided into two stages: 3.2% in the first week of the month and another 1.8% from the 20th. The program allowed large supermarket chains to gain market share to the detriment of smaller businesses.
In April, sales in independent and Asian supermarkets fell 16.6%. And in the first week of May, the contraction climbed to 21.6%. "The accumulated of the year leaves us a contraction of -8.2% in consumption," underlines a report by the consultancy Scanntech.