Announcement of price increase by supermarkets
9 January 2020: On the 4th January, 2020, the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) released a press statement indicating an impending rise in prices of supermarket items. This statement credited this imminent increase on the supply end as a result of “various challenges in the operating climate”. Subsequently, in an interview on CNC3’sMorning Brew programme on 8th January, 2020, the question of price adjustments was addressed. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) wishes to advise:
a. As we have seen, only two (2) of thousands of businesses have notified of an intention to increase prices.
b. Local flour producers National Flour Mills (NFM) and Nutrimix have both indicated that there will be no change in the price of flour.
c. Angostura products are considered luxury items and are not identified as a necessity or basic food item.
Additionally, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT), at the 49th Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in November 2019, once again sought the suspension of the Common External Tariff on a list of basic food items and this was approved in accordance with Amended Article 83(3) paragraph (b) for the period 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020 to apply a 0% rate of duty on a series of selected items. These items include fish dried, salted or in brine, cheese, teas, fruit juices, yeast, other prepared or preserved meat, canned fish, corned beef and preparations for infant use. This measure by the GoRTT is intended to ensure that prices of food items remain affordable.
The MTI would like to take this opportunity to appeal to manufacturers, importers, distributors and supermarket owners to consider the consumer in the current economic climate and work with the Government to ensure stable and fair pricing and to refrain from price gouging and other exploitative practices. The business community is reminded that one of the roles of the Fair Trading Commission is to function as a watchdog by monitoring business conduct and claims of anti-competitive practices. It is also imperative that both suppliers and supermarkets examine the efficiencies in their current processes and make necessary changes that will benefit both the business and the consumer.
Citizens are reminded that in Trinidad and Tobago there is no government control of prices and that prices are subject to free market conditions. This allows for prices to rise and fall freely depending purely on the laws of demand and supply. However, it also forces competitive pressure and provides you with the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice. Consumers are, therefore, encouraged to focus on their bargaining power through comparative shopping and freedom to purchase or refuse purchase of any good or service. Comparative shopping prior to purchase ensures that one capitalizes on the best pricing of merchandise and services. Shoppers should also take advantage of specials and sales on items. In the month of December, for instance, supermarkets advertised a number of attractive specials which favoured the consumer. This should continue.
The Consumer Affairs Division (CAD), the consumer protection and advocacy arm of the MTI is committed to and will continue its price monitoring exercises and publishing of supermarket prices to facilitate comparative shopping.