Here is the answer to Fran Walker´s question as to why food prices are high here in Costa Rica:
It is because there is very little competition. How many distributors of milk products are there in Costa Rica? Dos Pinos and Coronado, and Coronado happens to be owned by Dos Pinos. How many tuna fish producers? Really, just Sardinar. Almost all those other Costa Rican tuna labels are owned by that same company.
How many chicken and egg producers? Pipasa dominates the market. These are three examples of foods with prices that are usually higher than in the U.S. It’s pretty well known that in Costa Rica the same top 20 or 30 families that make the laws in the legislature also control most of the products in the economy. Example: Óscar Arias´s family used to own part of Pipasa.
The reason always given is that the population of the Costa Rica market is not big enough to support other competitors. But that is just an excuse. The big companies get favored treatment and develop and perpetuate monopolies because a lot of people at the top are getting rich off of all the common people.
Look at the rice subsidies. Instead of Costa Rican rice producers getting lean and mean and competing with rice imports, they cry to their buddies in the legislature who then impose tariffs on the foreign competition. So why learn how to compete when you are protected by your friends and family who make the laws?