Staff Reporter THE price of potatoes, lemons and green peppers went up by more than 20% during the course of last year. In the fresh produce section, it was only sardines, blue whiting, salmon and green beans that fell in price during 2003. In the bottled and packaged goods department, the rise in price of olive oil was the steepest. The Ministry of Economy is confident, however, that the cost of this product will stabilise in the next month or two. Separately, the ministry attributes the increased cost of fresh fish to the Christmas holiday period. Between December 2002 and 2003, green peppers and potatoes rose in price by 28.39 and 23.68 percent, respectively, while lemons went up by 20.69 percent. l Other fresh products which registered an annual rise of more than 10 percent were: l lettuces (12.44%), l pears (12.44%), l eggs (13.59%), l oranges (18.4%) l apples (19.01%). Sardines and blue whiting prices fell in 2003 by 2.88% 2.84%, respectively, while that of salmon fell by 1.49% and green beans by 3.02%. So far as meat products were concerned, only farm rabbit rose in price over and above 10 percent (10.39%) and this was in spite of the fall of 5.12 percent it registered in December. Steak prices rose in 2003 by 1.44%, as indeed did pork by 2.26%; lamb by 3.52%, and chicken by 5.92%. A director of Commercial policy, Carlos Jiménez, pointed to the drop in price of tomatoes, which fell by 13.71 percent during the month of November. This fresh product has returned to its “normal prices” due to an adjustment of supply and demand. “After the prices peaked as a result of the effects of this year's drought, the market has readjusted itself and the tomato has ceased to become a luxury item”, he explained. Anchovies and onions were the two fresh products that underwent the steepest price rise in December 2003 relative to the previous month, registering increases of 6.99% and 6.13%, respectively. The director went on to confirm that the price rise in olive oil products was due fundamentally to a lack of supply at the outset of the harvest. “We hope that within a month and a half, the price of olive oil will come down”, he said. Between December 2002 and the same month in 2003, the few prices in this section that actually fell included that of sunflower seed oil, by 0.11% and that of butter, by 1.20%.