NECESSARY EVIL: Super Value President says increase on select breadbasket items necessary or products won’t be available

NECESSARY EVIL: Super Value President says increase on select breadbasket items necessary or products won’t be available

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Super Value’s president yesterday described the recent increase on several price-controlled breadbasket items as a “necessary evil”, suggesting that those increases could range anywhere from five to seven percent, depending on the product.

Debra Symonette, president and Chief Financial Officer, told Eyewitness News that given the global supply chain challenges and the increasing cost of goods globally, local retailers have faced significant challenges procuring goods, keeping prices affordable for local consumers, and maintaining a profit.

“With the war and the supply chain issues, we have been faced with tremendous challenges,” said Symonette.

“If costs go up naturally we are going to have to raise the cost of goods if we want to stay in business. If a product costs $7 and we were only allowed to sell it for $5 we wouldn’t be able to offer that product any longer.”

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Economic Affairs published a notice of an approved increase in the price of cooking oil, corned beef, evaporated milk, flour and margarine.

“It’s a necessary evil,” said Symonette.

“It could range from five percent to seven percent or even higher depending on the product. We are trying as best we can to keep the prices to a minimum. The minimum is just going to be a bit more right now. We are doing our best to get products at the best possible price and pass those savings on to consumers. Hopefully this will all come to an end soon but right now it’s a tough situation.”

Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis while speaking on the issue in the Senate yesterday acknowledged that the issue of inflation, particularly on grocery items is a “vexing” one. He noted that the government is sympathetic to the plight of consumers but noted that it is limited in terms of how it can assist.

“Food inflation is an issue that is vexing and affecting us and other countries around the region. It’s something we are studying and seeking ways to assist. There is no general authorization in the notice on breadbasket items. You have items that are in the breadbasket items that are price-controlled. You have various brands and what happens is when an importer imports an item, if his price has gone up he applies to the Prices Commission,” said Halkitis.

He further noted that the government could choose to deny the increase and find some way to appease retailers for absorbing the cost or face the likelihood that they could stop importing certain brands altogether. 

“It’s a vexing issue. No one wants to see costs go up. The issue is imported inflation. We import so many things and experience inflation. I don’t want the public to be left with the impression that the government is not sympathetic. We are limited in our toolbox. We have to be very measured in what we do.”