Argentina confronts inflation with discount fish

Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:27pm EDT
 
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By Hugh Bronstein

ITUZAINGO, Argentina (Reuters) - While most countries use fiscal and monetary policies to control inflation, Argentina has rolled out a fleet of fish trucks to ease the pain of consumers whose food bills are increasing every month.

The government's latest bid to confront rising prices consists of about a dozen mobile fishmongers selling cheap haddock in poor neighborhoods near the capital, Buenos Aires.

Trucks decorated with blue waves and the slogan: "Now There's Fish for Everyone" are pulling up beside local parks. They have been greeted by thousands of people, who stand in long lines to take advantage of steep discounts.

Argentines are the world's biggest consumers of beef and many profess to not liking fish. But with beef prices up 30 percent over the last three months alone and the subsidized haddock selling at around half the normal price, the fish is hard to refuse.

Under cloudy skies, hundreds flock toward the trucks as they roll into Ituzaingo, on the western edge of Buenos Aires, where many families can no longer afford steak.

There are grumbles about the quality of the fish, which is presented in brick-like squares, and complaints about having to wait for hours as around 5,000 people line up over the course of the day.

"It has a weird color, but what do I know?" one woman told reporters upon receiving her portion.

LET THEM EAT FISH   Continued...

 
<p>People line up to buy cheap fish at a park in Ituzaingo, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires March 20, 2010. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci</p>