Colombia - Commercial Guide

Discusses pricing formula and other fees, value-added tax (VAT), etc.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Colombian consumers buy many imported products. Consumers may pay between 60 to 80 percent over the Free On Board (FOB) price of the product. The final price of most imported consumer goods is calculated by estimating 20 percent of the FOB price for freight and insurance, warehousing, and other documentation costs; a 16 percent VAT (in most products); the import tariff (if the product is not duty free); and a 30-40 percent profit, thus putting the final price at an approximately 60-80 percent over the FOB price.

Department stores and supermarkets extend concession contracts to individuals and companies by permitting promotional space in their facilities to promote and sell consumer goods. These promotions include both familiar and unknown labels, and the goods are offered at discount prices in some cases. If the products are unknown in the market, the department stores or supermarkets may place them in the stores on a demonstration basis for a given period of time and will only place new orders if the products are well accepted by the public and sell relatively quickly. The largest supermarkets and drugstores also carry private labels at discount prices.

Suppliers to large chain stores, supermarkets, and super stores must provide certain guarantees on the continuity of products offered to avoid foreign surplus stock or remnants entering the Colombian market (i.e., foodstuffs, textiles, apparel, appliances, etc.). Imports of old or used clothing, closeouts, irregulars, off-season, or expired merchandise are prohibited.

When buying a food product, Colombians look for three things: brand recognition, which is usually related to high quality and social status; reliable and sufficient nutritional information such as the number of portions, nutritional value, and expiration date; attractive, colorful packaging and labeling. This tends to be more important for children’s products. All this information should be in Spanish.