Mexico to freeze food prices

Food producers in Mexico have promised to freeze prices on 150 commonly consumed products until the end of the year in a bid to combat the global food crisis.

“This reflects a commitment by Mexican entrepreneurs with the country,” said President Felipe Calderon. “It will positively and directly help the finances of millions of Mexicans.”

The 150 products on the list, worked out in negotiations with the government, include tinned refried beans and tomatoes, fruit juices, ketchup, and canned chillies. Non-processed foods are not included. Unions welcomed the move, although they pointed out that the prices of many of the products listed have already increased enormously this year. Cooking oil, for example, has risen by more than 50% and will be capped only until the end of August under the agreement.

This is the second step announced by the Calderón administration this year that is designed to help control inflation, which stands at nearly 5%, as well as head off the kind of protests already breaking out in other countries as food prices rise worldwide.

The first package, announced in May, included the elimination of import tariffs on basic grains, and a monthly subsidy for 26 million Mexican families already enrolled in poverty alleviation programmes.

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