With the current situation regarding rice processing in the private sector, ‘Mercados de Alimentas’ (Mercal), a network of food distribution centers, guaranteed the supply of 18,500 tons of rice per month, which represents 21% of consumer demand for rice, said Luis Fernández Abreu, Mercal’s Vice President of Operations.
During an open air event taking place in front of the Education Ministry, Fernández indicated that every time there is a conflict with private suppliers regarding a basic food staple, nervous shopping and hoarding on the part of consumers increases the demand for these products in Mercal.
“For us food is not a business; it is a right, and in our establishments the selling of good is much greats, which is why we establish controls [as to how much people can buy],” he explained.
Fernández noted that in the case of rice, Mercal is allowing the sale of 3 kilograms per person to guarantee that Venezuelans who go to these establishments will find said product given that private suppliers are not doing so.
He also said that in addition to the 21% Mercal supplies, the Venezuelan Food Producer and Distributor (Pdval) supplies 20% of the countries rice and another 10% is supplied by the Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation (CVA). This means that the Venezuelan government supplies 50% of the monthly consumption of rice.
“The private sector has to supply the other 50%, around 45,000 tons for consumption, but not of flavored products, but of regulated [products]. On Tuesday the Commerce Minister, Eduardo Samán, mentioned that the evasion of price controls was done by flavoring the product. When we see and observe the process, we note that for every 10 kilograms of flavored [rice] they can avoid 14 tons of the product; [this is] a problem of savage capitalism,” Fernández explained.
Fernández affirmed that Mercal will maintain its prices, established in 2003, in order to supply 60% of the Venezuelan population with every product in the basic food basket at zero inflation.
Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / March 4, 2009