When buying the ingredients for your “tamales” this year-end you could pay up to 188% more for the same product, depending on the brand and the shop where you buy it; as stated in a study conducted by the Ministry of the Economy, Industry, and Commerce (MEIC in Spanish) on the cost of the “tamales” basket.
Overall, the report indicates that the total cost of the ingredients to cook “tamales” reaches a minimum total of ₡ 20,951 colones taking into account the lowest prices found in the shops visited for the study.
However, this cost could rise up to 30% if you buy in stores that have similar products but at higher prices. In the latter case, the total cost of the ingredients is of ₡ 27,189 colones.
Although this difference is not so significant, MEIC officials do recommend to compare prices because the price gap found in some ingredients is more significant.
For example, the mixed vegetables, identical products still have price discrepancies of up to 49% even with the same layout, same bar code and the same brand. The minimum cost of this ingredient was ₡618 colones while the maximum was ₡920 colones.
Now, within similar products of different brand but with the same presentation, one of the biggest differences was in the seasoning mixture known as «bomba». For example, a brand was priced at ₡ 510 and another ₡ 1,125. A gap of 103% was also found in the price of cotton wick to put together the “tamales”; and 82% in the cost of corn flour of the same weight but of a different brand.
In the case of fresh products, the differences are even greater depending on the place in which they are purchased. Thus, the cost of onions, the price variations are 188% between the minimum price of ₡ 520 and up to ₡ 1,500; carrots, the cost difference is 145% (meaning ₡ 435), pepper 140% (₡ 210) and 133% in potatoes (₡ 795).
On the other hand, the meat for the “tamales” also has its variations. The chicken breast can cost between ₡ 1,795 and ₡ 3,955 (for a difference of 120%), while pork can have differences of up to 141% between the lowest price of ₡ 1995 and the highest ₡ 4,805.
Finally, the study found that, in most products, prices are significantly lower in the municipal markets of Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia, and the Central Market of San José, than in the supermarkets.
This comparison was based on the costs of the ingredients in 59 stores, including 21 supermarkets and 38 market segments. Likewise, the products that were taken into consideration: 80/20 rice, olives, mixed spice, sweet pepper, peas, corn flour, banana tree leaves, cotton wick, whole chicken breast, pork, sweetcorn, mixed vegetables, carrots, onions and potatoes.