By MARK LORENZANA
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on Wednesday, Sept. 7, accused businessmen in Mexico of increasing their profits especially in times of crisis, claiming that the Mexican Treasury will now ask them for an explanation.
In his Wednesday morning press conference, López Obrador said that private businesses should instead help control price increases. He specifically mentioned the president of Maseca (a company that produces corn flour and tortillas), Juan González Moreno, and representatives from other private companies, including Minsa, Walmart, Chedraui and Soriana.
The first to be summoned by the Mexican Treasury, according to AMLO, will be González Moreno of Maseca, so he can explain the price increase of corn flour, which has impacted the cost of tortillas inationwide.
Maseca has about 70 percent of the corn flour market share in Mexico, while Minsa has 20 percent, López Obrador said.
“We are going to talk with both of them to review the behavior of flour prices. There must be reasonable profits, not abuse of increased profits, in these times of crisis,” López Obrador said. “It’s the same for the three commercial chains: Walmart, Chedraui and Soriana. We’re also going to talk to them. We’re going to ask them to help. We’re going to reinforce the anti-inflationary plan.”
The price of corn tortillas, however, has shot up because of uncontrolled inflation, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), which published on Thursday, Sept. 8, the National Consumer Price Index (INPC), which rose again and registered an annual increase of 8.7 percent in August of this year. This represents a considerable increase compared to August 2021, when inflation stood at 5.59 percent.
While processed foods reported an annual increase in price of 12.94 percent in August of this year compared to the same period last year, the price of agricultural products increased by 14.90 percent.
Among processed foods, those that reported the highest increases were wheat flour at 37.01 percent, white bread at 29.24 percent and sweet bread at 23.88 percent. Agricultural products onions, potatoes, oranges, watermelons, green tomatoes, melons and lemon increased by 100.82 percent, 74.0 percent, 44.03 percent, 38.58 percent, 35.55 percent, 22.7 percent and 23.61 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, livestock products also registered an annual increase: fish at 14.79 percent, pork at 14.68 percent, beef at 13.61 percent and chicken at 14.10 percent.
According to figures from the Inegi, the annual headline inflation in the country at 8.7 percent remains the highest rate since December 2000, when it reached 8.96 percent.
The general increase in prices in August was above the consensus of analysts of 8.68 percent at an annual rate, but within the range of between a minimum of 8.27 percent and a maximum of 8.80 percent, estimated by the 33 financial institutions consulted by the CitiBanamex Financial Group, of which only three were accurate with their forecasts.