Supermarket Profiteering in T&T Revealed


Price gouging is a pejorative term referring to when a seller spikes the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair, and is considered exploitative, potentially to an unethical extent. Usually this event occurs after a demand or supply shock: common examples include price increases of basic necessities after hurricanes or other natural disasters. The term is similar to profiteering but can be distinguished by being short-term and localized, and by a restriction to essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and equipment needed to preserve life, limb and property.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry through its Consumer Affairs Division has on Thursday 14, April released a 32-page comprehensive document showing comparative prices of selected supermarkets throughout Trinidad of some of the most commonly purchased food items. This was done as part of its mandate to ensure fair pricing in the marketplace. The data, which comprises a total of 116 items from 42 supermarkets, compares prices for basic food items such as eggs, corned beef, rice, cheese, margarine, and other domestic items such as toilet soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, and soap powder, among others. The Division is encouraging consumers to download and keep the booklet for personal use.


The document was broken down into 5 sections as follows:


1  Arima, Barataria, Chaguanas, Couva, Cunupia
2  Curepe, Debe, Diego Martin, Mayaro
3  Point Foritn, Port of spain, Princes Town
4  Rio claro, San Fernando, San juan, Sangre Grande
5  Siparia/Fyzabad, St. James, Toco, Tunapuna


Our formula for determining if a supermarket may profiteering on a certain item:


It is assumed that on average, a supermarket puts on a 30% mark up on its goods. This mark up can vary from 25% to 35% from supermarket to supermarket. Therefore some minor pricing variations are acceptable, since different businesses will have different operating structures and overheads.


Here is a working example;


A theoretical product has an average retail price of $5.00, given the variations in mark-ups and the effects of distribution prices, an acceptable variation from this average price would be 10%. Hence some supermarkets may have the price of this item as low as $4.50 and others may have the same product for as high as $5.50. This price range would be within the norm where market forces are operating efficiently. But if a supermarket is identified as having the product for say, $7.00 this price would be outside the normal pricing range that is expected and therefore, it can be considered to be overpriced. If this trend is seen to be consistent for the establishment, they may be involved in profiteering.


Consumers must also beware when purchasing items with very low prices. Sometimes this may be a dumping price, in order to get rid of it quickly since the expiry date may be close or even gone. Don’t risk your health and well-being just to save that extra dollar.

Based on the document, here are the Supermarkets and Items that appear to be over-priced by Section.


Section 1


Item Description Supermarket Price TT$ Average Price at other Supermarkets
Salted Fish (w/bone) 454g Maharaj Westside 36.00  25.34
 Flour (Ibis) 10kg  Jumbo Foods 66.80  61.20
 Lentils (pre-packaged (N/Pride) 400g  Price Club 7.97  6.48
 Sugar – Brown Demerara (1800g)  Maharaj Westside  20.99  16.48
 Peanut Butter Matouk’s (500g)  Low Cost  23.95  18.36
 Vegetable Oil Richport (900ml)  Xtra Foods  19.11  15.89
 Corn Flakes (local) Sunshine 18oz  Low Cost  30.95  25.79
 Corn Flakes (Imported) Kellogs 15.2oz  Jumbo Foods  29.99 22.98
 Soya Chunks N/Delights 454g  Massy Stores  24.18 21.41


Section 2


Item Description Supermarket Price TT$ Average Price at other Supermarkets
Cheddar Cheese 454g S & S Persad 24.99 19.35
 Eggs (1 Doz Large) S & S Persad 29.99 23.02
Pre-packaged Rice Happi (1800g) Massy Stores 20.99 19.32
Sugar – Brown Demerara (1800g) Massy Stores 19.99 16.49
Peanut Butter Matouk’s (500g) Tru Valu 22.49 18.69
Soya Oil Happi 3.8L  Tru Valu 74.24 46.32
Infant Cereal (Nestle – wheat & Honey)  Tru Valu  23.91 20.59


Section 3


Item Description Supermarket Price TT$ Average Price at other Supermarkets
Sardines (in oil) Brunswick Winston’s 7.50  5.48
Cheddar Cheese 454g SNSR 27.27 21.19
Flour (Ibis) 10kg Back to Basics 65.00 60.70
Sugar – Brown Demerara (1800g) Persad’s 20.99 17.32
Infant Formula Klim (Growing Up) Back to Basics 61.99 56.84
Instant Chocolate (Nesquik) SNSR 28.99 22.43
Peanut Butter Matouk’s (500g) Back to Basics 22.49 18.38
Soya Chunks N/Delights 454g SNSR 25.99 22.77


Section 4


Item Description Supermarket Price TT$ Average Price at other Supermarkets
Corned Beef Target 340g Persad D Food King 16.99 15.36
Eggs (1 Doz Large) Tru Valu 27.99 23.08
Flour (Ibis) 10kg Maharaj 65.00 59.28
Coffee Cafe Brasil 100g Maharaj 32.60 28.49
Soya Oil Happi 3.8L Ramesh & Leela 57.49 51.86


Section 5


Item Description Supermarket Price TT$ Average Price at other Supermarkets
Salted Fish (w/bone) 454g Diskomart 27.27 25.07
Smoked Herring (w/bone) 454g Diskomart 19.99 15.36
Cheddar Cheese 454g Cumana Co-Op 27.00 21.92
Table Margarine Blue Band 227g Albert Nixon 10.00 7.75
Eggs (1 Doz Large) Albert Nixon 30.00 23.31
Pre-packaged Rice Par Excel 2kg Cumana Co-Op 25.00 19.87
D/pigeon peas (loose) 454g Cumana Co-Op 10.00 6.42
Infant Formula SMA 900g Stop & Shop 104.60 97.79
 Soya Chunks N/Delights 454g Diskomart 24.18 19.99


It can been seen that by shopping around, significant amounts of money can be saved. Try shopping at different supermarkets each week and compare your overall bill. Certain supermarkets may generally have lower prices in certain sections, and therefore by shopping strategically,  you can get everything that you need at an overall lower cost.



Source: Supermarket Prices of Items

Posted by: Trini 2D Bone on