Thirty-eight brigades involving 80 ASAE inspectors are on the ground on Wednesday inspecting the prices of foodstuffs in hypermarkets and supermarkets, in light of the 21.1% increase in the basic basket last year, more than double inflation.
Speaking to Lusa, the secretary of state for tourism, commerce and services, Nuno Fazenda, explained that this inspective action by the Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE) has “as background that Portugal has a general inflation of 8.6%, below the European Union average of 10%, but, with regard to food products, the price of the basket increased more than twice the inflation, 21.1%,” in the last year.
“For that very reason, and also because we have, in some products, increases of 40, 50 and even 70% compared with the previous year, we intend to intensify monitoring at the level of food prices,” he said.
On the first day of the month of the consumer, Nuno Fazendo told Lusa that 10 ASAE brigades were on the ground in the north of the country, 12 brigades in the south and 16 brigades in the central region to “supervise on the ground, in supermarkets and hypermarkets across the country, the fixing of prices and commercial practices”.
“We want to convey a word of confidence to consumers. The state is aware, is acting and will intensify this action on the ground,” he stressed.
According to the secretary of state, this monitoring of food prices “is something that has already been done”, and “in the last six months, ASAE inspected around 800 operators, which resulted in 40 criminal proceedings and around 80 administrative offences”.
“This includes, for example, monitoring prices set on the shelf and those paid at supermarket checkouts,” he said.
Considering that “the exaggerated rise in prices does no-one any favours, including the economic operators themselves”, Nuno Fazenda noted that “the Portuguese will only be able to pay prices that are affordable”, and so it is necessary to “pay close attention to the exaggeration of prices at which food products are sold”.
“This is an effort that calls for everyone. It certainly involves the state and its institutions in the regulation and supervision, but it also involves the operators in terms of strengthening confidence, transparency and social responsibility”.
“The message is very clear: we will intensify these actions over the coming period. The state is attentive and is acting to defend consumers and protect a healthy economy,” he stressed.