CARACAS, Tuesday January 08, 2013 | Update

Venezuelan Government closely monitors food stocks to avoid hoarding

Government policies are lashing food manufacturers' performance

Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolás Maduro led a meeting held on Monday with the executives of supermarket chains (Photo: AVN)
Tuesday January 08, 2013  11:58 AM
Food supply is commonly low in January in Venezuela, yet this year it is quite atypical. Since late 2012, shortages in basic staples have escalated, lashing supply in 2013 as well.

Although the Venezuelan Executive Office has full control on food stocks, it has arranged meetings with representatives from the food sector. On Monday, Executive Vice-President Nicolás Maduro met with representatives from different retail stores and supermarkets, and the sugar and poultry sectors. Meetings with flour, meat, oil, and fat producers have been scheduled for Tuesday. 

The vice-president of the Economic and Productive Area, Ricardo Menéndez, asserted that the Government "has been keeping track of the country's food production, including rice, sugar, coffee, flour, and oils."

Since late 2012, authorities have been monitoring shortages of pre-cooked corn flour, chicken, and sugar. Food Minister Carlos Osorio pointed out recently that shortages were due to the fact that transport and logistics services took holidays in December, thus hitting food distribution.

Authorities have suggested that shortages are the result of hoarding and a "political game."

The real problem

Food production largely depends on the government policies. Regulated prices, restricted sale of US dollars, obstacles to purchase dollars for imports, and bottlenecks in ports have taken a toll on supply.

Furthermore, gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 show that domestic production falls short of meeting the industrial sector's demand. Therefore, the gap is filled with imports.

Despite skyrocketing imports, food supply was irregular throughout 2012. Based on the central bank's latest report, issued in November, the shortage index stood at 14.6 food items per every 100 products. By October, the index hit 16%.

Translated by Jhean Cabrera
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