THE Supermarket Association (SATT) said delinquent supermarkets engaged in price-gouging were not members of the association and its members were not part of the problem.
In a media statement on Friday afternoon, president Rajiv Diptee sought to set the record straight after Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon slammed retailers for unfair mark-ups on food, especially flour.
She said there were reports that some retailers have implemented a 40-60 per cent price hike, even though the recent flour price increase was ten-33 per cent.
Diptee said incidents of price-gouging within SATT were practically nonexistent and condemned charging customers excessively.
“SATT wishes to remind the public that not all supermarkets fall under the umbrella of the association. SATT members are held to a gold standard of community service and industry best practice while adhering to robust corporate social responsibility."
He said "delinquent" supermarkets involved in any unsavoury practices such as price-gouging did not fall under SATT.
Diptee said the sector was one of the most robust and competitive sectors both in the Caribbean and Latin America, which created fair and competitive operations.
He added that because the sector was saturated it created high levels of competition among leading household brand-name supermarkets, who were also competing for attention.
“As such, this provides checks and balances where predatory pricing is concerned. This results in an environment where deals, specials and promotions are a common draw for customers looking to maximise their budget.
“In an industry this competitive, it simply does not allow for price-gouging to occur when consumers have so many options for their shopping needs.”
He said charging exorbitant prices for goods was an unscrupulous practice "and one that is treated harshly under the auspices of the association.”
SATT urged consumers who felt victimised to contact the Consumer Affairs Division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Also on Friday, Gopee-Scoon met with Diptee about increasing food prices and agreed to further discussions next week with Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein and other stakeholders on the quality of basic food items and their affordability.