The federal government is investigating whether food products and other basic consumer goods are being overpriced in the country. The investigation began after the National Consumer Office (Senacon) received a complaint in late March that milk prices had risen 30 percent. Other products have also suffered a sudden increase in prices. The cost of dried beans is said to have increased by 70 percent, and some fruits and vegetables saw hikes of nearly 50 percent.
According to Senacon Chief Luciano Timm, the goal is not to impose food price controls, but to understand whether increases were a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, or simple opportunism. “Our system is the free market, but there are limits to it,” Mr. Timm said. If proven that companies are acting in bad faith, fines could be set at BRL 9.9 million (USD 1.87 million).