EconomyFinancialBad news! Inflation drives up prices for fish and...

Bad news! Inflation drives up prices for fish and shellfish this Lenten season

“For years people have eaten fish at Easter, it has always been a good season for us because many families get together on these days. But with these prices, let’s see how this year goes,” says Magdalena López, who has a seafood stall in a market in downtown Mexico City.

The great challenge facing both businesses and consumers this season is inflation , which caused a 13.5% increase in the price of fish during March; while shrimp rose 13.4%. These increases are above general inflation, which in the month stood at 7.45%, according to Inegi data.

The merchant reports that she has searched among her suppliers for those who offer her the best prices, at least for the foods that are sold the most during this season, such as shrimp or fish fillet, to somewhat mitigate the impact of rising prices. . But the inflationary phenomenon will inevitably affect the pockets of those who already have a tradition of eating seafood during Lent .

The Romero family is a fervent follower of tradition. For this season of Lent, he plans to eat aguachile, shrimp pozole and fried fish. His budget, for ten people, is 3,000 pesos. “We all cooperate so that the expense is felt less, and we go early to La Viga (a seafood market in Mexico City) so that everything is fresh and that way we save some money,” says Jorge, who is the member of the family that is in charge of cooking.

But there are those who will make some adjustments to the menu. Cuauhtémoc Rivera, president of the National Alliance of Small Merchants (Anpec), declares that proteins from the sea are “the axis of food” for Mexicans during Lent, but the rise in prices has hit the purchase of these foods since the beginning of Lent, four weeks before the so-called Holy Week .

“This inflation generates a food ban and people make simulations on the subject of protein. For example, they eat tuna pancakes, with more potatoes than tuna; fish nuggets , with more fish flour, the surimi ceviche and the Mexican-style sardines. This tells us that the intake of Mexicans has become cheaper in an impressive way as a result of inflation,” says Rivera.

The representative of small businesses in the country adds that inflation has also reduced the purchase ticket , which reduces the profits of Mexican merchants.

Magdalena López says that, although buyers try to stay true to the tradition of eating seafood, if prices exceed the established budget, they usually change the star products of the season, for others of lower price, such as squid. “People make dishes that yield more, like broth, which you can put vegetables in and it’s cheaper. Here they even ask us for the recipes and we tell them how to cook so they’re encouraged to buy,” he adds.

In a price comparison of products that are consumed during Lent, the National Alliance of Small Merchants detected that a kilogram of cheap shrimp, which last year had a price of 260 pesos, increased to 360 pesos, a kilo of octopus went from 280 at 295 pesos, the red snapper from 415 to 565 pesos and the tuna medallion from 265 to 320 pesos.

Although there are also price drops. The kilo of squid went from 190 to 125 pesos, that of mojarra from 105 to 95 pesos per kilo, and that of white fish from 125 to 90 pesos per kilo.

white proteins

Although the religious mandate prevents eating red meat prior to Easter, which encourages the purchase of other proteins, such as chicken or eggs, these products have also suffered the impact of the rise in prices that the country has been experiencing since last year.

In the Usage Food Panel analysis, Kantar México shares that the egg is the protein with the highest weight in the white protein group, and registered an increase of 10.2% in its consumption during the first quarter of 2021, the latest data available. In contrast, the consumption of chicken, the second protein with the highest weight in this basket, contracted -8.1%.

The consumption of packaged tuna, as well as that of fresh fish and shellfish, grew 14.8% and 16% in the same period, although its participation in this basket is small, since it represents 6% of the consumption of all the proteins mentioned, according to with Kantar’s analysis.

“Although it would be expected that the intake of fish and shellfish would increase at this time, this effect was only seen in high socioeconomic levels, while chicken and canned tuna stood out in the middle levels, and in terms of low social strata, highlighted the egg,” said Adrián Ávalos, Out Of Home & Usage Food Manager of the Worldpanel division of Kantar México.

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