The 7 large food producers that highlight and destock | Meeting with the Secretary of Commerce

Faced with speculative maneuvers with prices and supply volumes, the Government once again opts for the warning scheme for the giant producers of the basic basket. This Friday at 11 in the morning, the Secretary of Internal Trade, Roberto Feletti, will receive seven large mass consumption firms that have marked prices above what is allowed and that are being observed for stocking out the Care Prices shelves. The call comes after the Government proved irregular behavior and a scenario in which prices are still hot, especially in basic foods.

The seven big bad moods

as anticipated Page I12 This Monday, Feletti will meet with companies of the stature of Mondelez, Molinos Río de la Plata, Danone, Unilever, Arcor, Mastellone and Nestlé. In that group are those that, a priori, had more unjustified increases and problems with the general provision but, above all, of Care Price products.

This newspaper revealed last week that the supply to the basket of reference prices went from 80 percent to 60 or 65 percent in large supermarkets, due to the decision of the firms to sell the same products but 30 or 40 percent. cent more expensive outside the hypermarkets, where the Government works with the chains for an articulated control of the evolution of prices.

But that’s not all: if you look at the general supply, outside of Care Prices, you also see a strong speculative move: in normal times, the level of supply usually ranges between 90 and 95 percent. Today, it’s stuck at 75 percent. In other words, there are almost 20 fewer points where merchandise is shipped from manufacturers to large stores, especially supermarkets, which is where the Government has stricter controls.

What the Secretary of Commerce wants is that they justify the increases on real costs, given that there are many firms that go up with the excuse of the war in Ukraine, which has no impact on some particular products. In parallel, they must explain why they sell, outside the large supermarkets (where 80 percent of total consumption is found), at prices of one 30 or 40 percent more expensive. All this occurs in a context where the Government, although it expects a moderation in prices in April, will continue to hit food prices very hard, including fresh and off-the-shelf products.

Inflation only “slightly lower”

In her usual press conference, the President’s spokeswoman, Gabriela Cerruti, stated that April’s inflation will be “slightly lower” than last month’s 6.7, although she warned that “this does not mean that it will no longer be a problem” with which “we are going to have to continue dealing all year long”, while pointing out that “the Government is focused on sustaining growth and that it be with redistribution”.

“We understand, according to March inflation, that in April it should be a little lower,” Cerruti said, although he did not release an estimate of a percentage of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the current month. The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) will release April inflation next Thursday, May 12. Despite the estimate of a reduction in the index, the spokeswoman clarified that “this does not mean that it is no longer a problem that we are going to have to continue dealing with throughout the year.”

This is the setting for the meeting with the food giants, which are contained in the Coordination of Food Producers (COPAL), chaired by Daniel Funes de Rioja. These sectors, as this newspaper has been telling, send price lists with increases almost weekly. The Government is aware of the situation because it knows these data online via a monitoring system called SEPA.

There, the large supermarkets report each increase and each change in products, for which what is left over is information to verify the maneuvers. It is worth remembering that this is not the first time that these firms have gone to a meeting with the government, warned them and threatened them with sanctions, and they continue without changing their behavior.

But the Executive has a problem for the controls, which is that it only has an eye on the large hypermarkets, the modern channel, which represents only 25 percent of total sales. But food manufacturers, seeing consumption grow even at record inflation levels, they choose to recompose profitability by destocking where there are controlled prices and allocating those sales to 80 percent where the State does not get to see. The reference is for local businesses, warehouses and Chinese supermarkets, where the same product is between 30 and 40 percent more expensive.