The warning from the head of the Argentine Federation of Supermarkets (FASA), Victor Palpacelli, that several regional chains could exit the Fair Prices program if the government decides to go ahead with controls on truck drivers, It spread – yesterday – like wildfire among supermarkets and food companies.
However, the initiative has not received much attention in the sector. “It is not true that they will disappear as entities. What Palpacelli said is that some (individually) are considering it. But it’s not a Federation position,” a Fasa source clarified in the afternoon.
From the United Supermarkets Association (ASU), which brings together the large chains they also ruled out the idea of exiting the official schedule. “We do not pass an ethical or political judgment. We don’t care if the truckers or anyone else controls it. It helps us demonstrate that the products are not “encanutados” anywhere. The goods are not in the gondolas because the delivery is insufficient,” explained Juan Vasco Martínez, spokesman for that entity. The entrepreneur then referred to the fact that supply cannot meet demand.
Meanwhile, sources from the Secretary of Commerce have also arrived put cold cloths on the subject: “The participation of the union’s logistics area is exclusively due to the fact that the secretary of Commerce went to inspect the distribution centers of some supermarkets where the goods arrive by truck”, they specified.
“What controls and supervises is the state and the union eventually provides some information since they are the ones who carry the goods that the supplier companies send. Truck drivers or anyone other than the state will never come in and inspect a supermarket gondola, that’s false.”continued the source of the portfolio led by Matías Tombolini.
According to the same source, the portfolio for now It has no new operations scheduled at distribution centers“since we are processing the results of these operations last week,” he concluded.
In large supplier companies, they do not consider exiting the Fair Prices program in addition to the repudiation generated by the government’s call for truck drivers and protesters to monitor compliance with the official plan.
The Government has tempted participants in this programme, which covers just 4% of what is offered on the gondola, with the possibility of access the official dollar for imports if they keep prices at bay.
Daniel Funes de Rioja, president of COPAL, which brings together the main food industries, explained: “We were surprised by the decision to ask the unions and piquetero groups to help with the inspections,” he said.
“It is a decision that goes further because it affects the responsibility of the State which has the media through the Secretary of Commerce and also the AFIP which is perfectly informed about the stocks of companies and distribution chains,” he stressed before Clarín’s questioning. And he concluded: “the outsourcing of government functions does not correspond and opens a dangerous path”. Opinion also shared by Alfredo Gonzalez, president of CAME: “The state cannot delegate control of this nature to any corporation.” he opined.
The fair price agreement was signed in December 2022 with the idea of curbing inflation by keeping the prices of around 2,000 consumer products fixed for four months. For the rest of the products marketed by the companies that have joined the program, a guideline of a monthly increase of up to 4% has been established for the same 120 days.
The program includes more than 10 sectors, such as food, hygiene and toiletries, cleaning, textiles and footwear, among others. In total, 358 companies participate in the agreements. The Fair Price offer represents only 2.88% of the total prices surveyed in Capital and GBA, according to INDEC. But its incidence is high in the Food and Beverage category, the one with the greatest weight in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
For this, now, given the imminent expiry of the program, at the end of February, the Government he is trying to extend it for a few more months and even until the end of the year, taking into account that it is an election year.
Charles Arterburn is a seasoned business journalist for News Rebeat, where he provides comprehensive coverage of the latest trends and developments in the world of finance and economics.