The control of the prices of food products goes through measures in three directions - control with already over 1000 checks, legislative changes and a website for the prices of basic food products, Nikola Stoyanov, Minister of Economy and Industry, who with his colleague told journalists in the Council of Ministers - Minister of Agriculture Yavor Gechev, presented the site
The site is already working at the internet address www.foodprice.bg and from the information in it it is clear that a total of more than 1000 joint inspections were carried out as of March 22, 2023 by the National Revenue Agency (NRA), the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA). The identified violations are nearly 770.
What the portal contains
The information portal for monitoring and comparing the prices of some food products in the small consumer basket in Bulgaria provides information on the prices of goods along the entire supply chain, from the producer to the store stand, and the possibility of comparing the prices of the same products in several countries from the European Union. The data is updated and provided weekly by government entities that have information on each stage of the supply chain. Prices in the commercial network in the country are collected through on-site visits to commercial chains in all 28 districts in Bulgaria and in 7 European countries. The information is intended for free use.
During the presentation of the portal to journalists, Stoyanov said that as Minister of the Economy he had formed a working group on the overpricing of food products. There will also be a review of EU food trade legislation. "The goal is to move towards the development of a project for the Food Trade Law," Stoyanov stressed.
According to him, for the first time the data of so many institutions have been combined in one place and an opportunity has been created to monitor and store information about the food market, which has never existed in our country before. Minister Stoyanov announced that, in addition to greater transparency for pricing, active work is also being done on the other two areas, related to regulatory changes and more effective control by the institutions.
"We are preparing two new draft laws - the Food Trade Act and the Trade Surcharge Act. We envisage that the second law will have a limited time period, and the markup ceiling will be applied to a limited number of products," said Nikola Stoyanov.
He gave a demonstration of the platform's functionalities. From the data in it, it is clear that on March 22 the wholesale price of butter in Bulgaria was higher than the retail prices for the same product in France, Germany and Austria, for example. Another product that was featured was cheese. On March 22, the retail price in stores is BGN 17.05/kg. per display case, which excludes packaging costs. The wholesale price on that day was about 50% lower. "If we also take into account that the price of the raw material was 1.04 per liter of milk, everyone can figure out for themselves where the distortion occurs in the chain", emphasized the economy minister.
The Minister of Agriculture Yavor Gechev announced that the Ordinance on the central food traceability register has already been published for public discussion. "The register will make it possible to track information at every step of the supply chain, at the level of wholesale trade in the country, both in terms of food quality and accompanying documents and prices," he further explained.
The Minister of Agriculture announced that the state will increase the irrigation water by 80%, as it already has a secured financial resource. "This is also a measure that aims to prevent an increase in the production prices of agricultural goods," commented Gechev.
There will be information on the prices of importers and manufacturers
The registered stock exchanges are located in 22 regions. The published wholesale prices on the markets will be weighted average prices according to the software of the State Commission on Commodity Exchanges and Markets (SCCEM). There will also be information about the prices of goods in the commercial network. It will be collected by the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS). Retail prices of food products do not include promotions, the economy minister pointed out.
Retail prices are compiled by the Agricultural Market Information System and are provided by the Ministry of Agriculture. They are monitored weekly by region of the country, covering both large retail chains and smaller retail outlets. They do not include in-store promotions, and the data is available both at the national level and for each administrative area.
Prices from abroad
The site also provides information on the prices of 11 basic food products (oil, rice, sugar, fresh milk, yogurt, butter, white cheese, yellow cheese, eggs, whole chicken chilled, formula powder) in 7 European countries. The data are provided on a weekly basis by the trade attachés to the Ministry of Economy and Industry. The collection of the information is based on the SAPI methodology, in order to avoid discrepancies with those for Bulgaria. The data is collected from 3 to 4 large chains, with priority being selected for those that operate in Bulgaria, as well as from 1 to 2 smaller commercial establishments. The European capitals Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Bucharest, Athens, Prague and Zagreb are included in the monitoring.
All prices that users see on the site include VAT, and additional information is provided on the levels of tax surcharges in each of the European countries.
Control activity menu created
which gives up-to-date information on the inspections of the control authorities. Along with this, there is also a quick link for submitting a report to each of the competent institutions - KZP, KZK and BABH.
The state also creates a mechanism through which commercial chains can participate in the process of submitting information to the Internet platform.
Instructions for them are ready, which will also be publicly available, and work is being done to create a technical possibility for the visualization of this data on the Internet site. It is planned that commercial chains and state-owned public enterprises with an annual turnover of more than BGN 30 million will be able to submit information. They will provide information on a weekly basis about the lowest price for products, but without those in promotion. The facilities will undertake that this price will not be higher for the declared period. It is being considered that these products will also be marked with a special sticker to help users orientate themselves.
The information will be submitted electronically to the Ministry of Economy and Industry with an electronic signature to verify its authenticity. The established threshold for the turnover of legal entities will enable about 30 entities in the country to participate in this process. These are both national retail chains and smaller regional outlets.
This process is entirely voluntary and will demonstrate the willingness of commercial establishments to participate in the entire food pricing clarification process. A preliminary meeting has already been held with some of them and there is a stated agreement on their part to participate in the initiative.
The site for the prices of the goods will cost, together with the maintenance for one year, it will cost BGN 30,000. It is owned by the Ministry of Economy and Industry and was developed by "Information Service" JSC, announced Minister Stoyanov.
If we manage to lower food prices, inflation will also fall. Because after energy, they continue to keep inflation high, Minister Stoyanov said.
The press conference was attended by representatives of SCCEM, National Revenue Agency, Customs Agency and others.