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Venezuela has recovered surprisingly thanks to the rise of oil prices and to an increase in the international reserves. After a 2003 marked by a strike in the oil industry and in other private companies, and the application of controls for currency exchange and prices, the country begins to register growth in several areas. International analysts claim that the Venezuelan Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could grow 10% by the end of 2004.

As for the real economy, the population begins to perceive the effects of these positive figures, since the increase in public spending has helped accelerate consumption.

The demand for products sold in the supermarkets and self service stores, like drugstores, increased 12.4% between January and August of 2004. In the case of staple food, the products with the greatest volume variation were sardines (32 %), corn flour (29 %), and wheat flour (20 %).

Meanwhile, dairy products only grew by 2%, mainly because of a 16.4% drop in powder milk consumption during this period. According to the Supermarket and Self-services Association (ANSA), the sale of food in general increased 15.2% as a result of an increase in the consumption of oats (42%), food for unweaned children (39 %), sweeteners (30 %), tomato sauce (25%), melted cheese (23.4 %), baby food -compote-(21%), and mayonnaise (22 %).The only product whose consumption decreased in this category is coffee (-10 %), which just as powder milk, has at times been scarce in the market.

The report indicates an increase in all other products sold at the supermarkets. In the case of personal care products, the volume of consumption increased by 23.5 %. The only products that underwent a contraction were wet napkins (-2.8 %). Likewise, the home maintenance products showed positive growth figures (18.3%),with the exception of floor wax, liquid insecticide and electrical insect repellents, which had negative figures between -6 % and -18 %.

Moreover, the volume of liquor sale increased sharply between January of 2004 in relation to the same period in 2003.The products with the greatest growth were beer (62 %) and aguardiente (hard liquor) (36.5 %).Non alcoholic beverages and various grew 30 % and 17.4 % respectively. There were negative growths in powder tea (17.4 %), perishable fruit juice (5.4 %), and batteries (1.4 %).

The effects of the government’s policy of reducing imports that can be replaced for those made in the country are visible on the supermarket shelves. For the Minister of production and commerce, Wilmar Castro, it is important to reinforce local industry in order for the national economy not to depend so much on purchases abroad.

Nevertheless, for wholesalers and retailers, this restriction could affect sales, because according to a study by the Datos polling firm, variety is the third purchase motivator in a self-service, and one of the aspects that affects and concerns consumers the most when they shop at the supermarket.

The report says that since 2002, the variety in the offer of products and services has been affected mostly by currency exchange controls and price regulations. Retailers seek to reduce their costs by rationing the products on their shelves.

An analysis of the data gathered in the supermarkets and drugstores throughout the country, reveals that in 2003, 34% of the products offered the previous year, 41% of which were made in Venezuela, were not commercialized. Until August of that same year, there was a deceleration in the decrease of variety. Most imported products that were no longer sold in 2003 were from the U.S. and Canada.

Furthermore, when comparing 2003 and 2004 in the analysis of discontinued products, beauty creams replaced candies in the first place. The percentages of discontinued products in each category, reveal that the ones that lost more variety this year were energizing drinks (42 %), thus replacing candies, which were in first place and had lost 54 % of their variety in 2003.

When classifying products by categories, personal care, like last year, is still the one that has lost the most variety,. Of all categories, various is the one with the highest percentage of discontinued products.

Publicado en Quantum N.39