In the last year, the prices of mass consumer products registered increases higher than inflation. At a year-on-year level, the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 40.7% until August, while food and beverages grew by 44.5%, according to Indec. What were the products that registered the largest increases? An approximation arises when comparing different price surveys.
According to the measurement carried out by the consultant Focus Market, with the Scanntech methodology (barcode readers), the top 10 product categories that increased the most year-on-year (September 2019 vs. September 2020) were :.
1) Herbs + 77.2%.
2) Rice + 75.8%.
3) Sugar + 75.2%.
4) Eggs + 65.1%.
5) Cigarettes + 63.6%.
6) Chocolates + 57,6%,
7) Diapers + 57.3%.
8) Canned + 56.4%.
9) Toothpastes + 56%.
10) Tomato puree + 54.9%.
Of course, this measurement (which includes 682 products of different brands and presentations) corresponds to a limited segment of mass consumption: surveyed self-services that have up to 500 square meters of surface. That is to say, it does not contemplate the large supermarket chains.
Another approach to the evolution of the most essential products in the basket comes from official data: taking into account the prices published by INDEC in August, year-on-year increases were detected ranging from 16% to 68% in the most basic items. For example, bread accumulates a year-on-year increase of 27%; flour, 28%; sunflower oil, 31%; chicken, 42%, a dozen eggs, 55%, common minced meat, 68% and sugar 52.8%, among some examples.
Also, in the biweekly survey carried out by the entity Free ConsumersOut of a group of 21 staple foods, eggs (116%), rice (86%) are creditor of the highest increases in the last year; yerba (81%) and sugar (84%).
The analyst Damian Di Pace, de Focus Market, points out that “there is an important correlation between the increase in prices and the fall in consumption. Except in the case of yerba, which is being consumed more, many categories began to be less bought by the constant price increases, “he says. And he adds:” In addition, the higher production costs that companies have, not only because of the increases in inputs but also because of the labor cost, of employees who did not return to their functions due to the pandemic. ”
According to the analyst, another factor that influences price increases is the lack of stock of many manufacturers because it is not profitable for them to produce these goods if they cannot increase their price, “as is the case with the policy of Maximum Prices“.
This official program – transitory, due to the pandemic – has had two price updates since March 6. Something that produced tensions between industry and commerce, those that are liable to be sanctioned if they do not comply. In this regard, the Secretary of Commerce reported that it has 500 closings and 6,000 records of infractions for different breaches.
The falls in sales volumes, basically related to inflation – in a context of quarantine – began to become more noticeable as of May, due to the deterioration in purchasing power, Di Pace points out. “The consumer began to look for alternatives to make his budget work. In some cases, he chose replace some products with others, as happened with sugar or rice, for example. But people also began to directly suppress some consumptions not only for the economic. For example, there were falls in flavored waters or isotonic drinks, which are more linked to sports activities that stopped due to quarantine; or the fernet, associated with social activity, such as cold cuts and sausages ”, he explained.
According to data from Focus Market, food accumulated a year-on-year fall of 3.8%. But, some foods lost more sales than the average: this is the case of cold cuts, alfajores, sugar, snacks, polenta, flavored milk and sauces.