Investigators at the economics ministry reported that the prices for basic foods and household products can vary by over 100 percent depending on the grocery store. This was the latest of the continuing surveys of the marketplace.
Investigators found that particular brands of tortillas, spaghetti and soap were the most varied depending on the store and the location.
Researchers took the prices of dozens of necessary household products of various labels and found the cheapest and costliest. The chain Palí had some of the cheapest prices and the chain AutoMercado had some of the most expensive.
For this study, investigators from the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio visited 41 groceries in all provinces, between Aug. 23 and Sept. 3. Of those stores, 31 were chains and 10 were independent. They specifically looked at 39 types of food and 14 cleaning and personal hygiene products.
Some of their findings were obvious. For example, the report indicates that a Gillette razor blade at Super Cristal in Curridabat is more than four times expensive than a Super-Max razor blade at Palí in Chacarita, southern Costa Rica.
However, the report also said that a 250-gram package of Milano spaghetti costs 125 percent more at the Megasuper in Puntarenas than at the Súper Rosvil in Grecia.
Of the 41 stores researched, they found the five stores with the cheapest prices on 49 basic products to be Palí el Roble with an overall cost of almost 93,000 colons for all of them. That store was followed by Maxi San Isidro, Palí San Felipe, Palí Heredia Centro and Palí Nicoya.
The most expensive store for these products was the AutoMercado in Heredia with a cost of nearly 117,000 colons.
By province, stores in Puntarenas had the cheapest prices and products, but the greatest variances in prices were found to be in Heredia and San José.
The report focused primarily on the extremes between products and stores. Researchers did not include median or average prices in their findings.
Researchers also investigated 14 stores specifically to see if they had proper tags on cheese and ham packages. They found that only 29 percent of these stores had correct tags on all of these products that were in stock. Overall, these violations were on cheese products because they lacked a list of ingredients or instructions on preserving the product.