Semana Santa survey again shows wide differences in prices

There is nothing sacred about Semana Santa as far as supermarkets are concerned.

At least that is the suspicion generated by a survey of food prices from the economic ministry.

The ministry said Wednesday that its survey showed that independent supermarkets sell products at a more reasonable price. It also said that shoppers could pay double for foods traditional during the Easter season.

The surveyors from the ministry checked prices on 29 items in 28 supermarkets in the metro area during the first six days of March.

According to a survey report by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio a shopper would pay 615 colons or about $1.25 for an 88-gram can of sardines at Super Plaza in San José. This is a very traditional Semana Santa food. Over at Mas x Menos in Hatillo the price was 1,925 colons, about $3.90, for the same brand.

There were similar differences in prices for other products.

Of course, the survey does not show that supermarket chains are lining their pockets. Larger companies have to pay social security charges and otherwise comply with Costa Rican labor laws. Small firms might be family-run. And imported products frequently are less expensive than Costa Rican products because foreign firms do not have all the labor costs that are required in Costa Rica.

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