Puerto Rico plantain prices remain high, despite surplus

Written by  //  August 23, 2013  //  Agriculture  //  No comments

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Retailer SuperMax is selling plantains at .85 cents a piece this week.

Retailer SuperMax is selling plantains at .85 cents a piece this week.

The Puerto Rico Farm Bureau “outed” local retailers Thursday, claiming they have failed to reduce plantain prices at the register despite an abundance of the staple item at the farm level.

The trade group said plantains prices at the farms have dropped to between 20 cents and 30 cents per unit, while consumers continue to pay between 66 cents and 87 cents at the register.

“The price at the farm since July has dropped by between 12 cents and 20 cents per plantain and consumers still have not seen a reduction in the price in supermarkets,” said Farm Bureau President Ramón González-Beiró.

Keeping the higher prices at the consumer level, while there’s a surplus at the farms, “does a disservice to both customers and farmers,” he said.

“By not lowering the price of plantains, grocery stores are not encouraging consumers to buy more plantains, which would benefit farmers,” he said. “We believe that when there is a surplus, as is the current situation, it is assumed that supermarkets would lower prices to stimulate demand and consumption.”

A survey of several major retailers showed that while Econo has offered plantains at .66 cents a piece, Amigo has been selling them for .87 cents each this week.

“The reduction in farm-level prices is of 25 percent to 50 percent, and consumers and have yet to find out that they could be enjoying more ‘mofongo,’ ‘tostones,’ yellow plantains and ‘mangú,’” González-Beiró said, referring to typical plantain-based dishes that are local favorites.

González-Beiró further noted that local farmers are currently covering all of Puerto Rico’s plantain demand, and urged retailers to drop prices to increase sales. He also put out a call to the island’s School Lunch Program to increase its purchase of plantains at the lower prices.

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