TT food prices remain high
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, Monday June 4, 2012 – In the 12 calendar months leading up to January 2012, fruit prices rose by 62.4 per cent in Trinidad and Tobago, while vegetables rose by 7.5 per cent and fish by 9.1 per cent.
This is according to figures reported by the Central Statistical Office.
And chairperson of the Price Council, Wendy Lee Yuen, has gone on record to warn consumers to brace themselves for more increases.
Lee Yuen told local media that the short dry season and wet weather experienced last year had not being conducive to successful fruit growing and subsequent harvesting, and therefore, with very little fruits available, prices went up.
She also warned that consumers should expect high costs for vegetables since the country was now going into a very wet period for this year.
Lee Yuen also said bananas were now primarily being imported from Suriname, St Lucia and St Vincent, which meant having to factor in the costs of shipping.
Regarding fish prices, Lee Yuen attributed this to the traditional Lenten demand, but she also called on authorities to institute policies to balance out the demand against other parts of the year where fish was more plentiful. She said that there should be open and closed fisheries seasons to give the fish stock time to naturally replenish. The consumer advocate also said strong legislation and enforcement was necessary to stop trawling and destructive fishing practices, which contribute to depleted fish supply and higher prices.
The Price Council chair also highlighted the growing shift toward processed foods as part of the reason for rising food prices as the majority of this type of food, including the ones bought in bulk and repackaged in Trinidad, also carried international transportation costs that were passed on to local consumers.
Lee Yuen called for better co-ordination to ensure maximum food production capabilities in terms of growing, manufacturing and processing and for stronger linkages to be made along the value chain.
She advocated for ways to be developed to preserve and process the fruits and vegetables while there was a surplus in order to make them available to consumers for longer periods, including when the items were not in season.