In 2003, then-President Hugo Chavez introduced price controls for some 40 food and hygiene products to guarantee the poor had access to staple goods.
But lately, in the midst of a cash crisis, price controls seem to have become a headache.
For the first time in years, shortages and inflation have replaced security as the biggest worry for Venezuelans, according to a recent poll by Caracas-based Datanalisis.
President Nicolas Maduro says shortages are caused by US-backed, far-right groups who smuggle and hoard products in an economic war to destabilise his socialist government.
"Venezuela currently has the necessary goods to feed the people, but there is a problem with distribution," says Eduardo Saman, a former commerce minister in the government of the late Hugo Chavez.
"And distribution is in the hands of companies who operate as a cartel and seek to affect the government," he tells the BBC.