The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) Wednesday said it would investigate complaints by consumers that some bakers in the country have compromised on the quality of bread to keep the price flat at $1,00, following a rise in the price of wheat and flour.
The country’s consumer watchdog also demanded an immediate solution to the unresolved issue of coins to ease the country’s crisis of change, which has worsened following the bread price adjustment.
“We are going to look into those complaints and take appropriate action,” Rosemary Siyachitema, CCZ executive director, said.
National Bakers’ Association chairperson Cydwell Chitehwe yesterday said his association was not aware of the issue, and could not comment.
Local bakers, after consultation with other stakeholders, adjusted the price of bread and other flour products to absorb a 20% increase in the price of flour by millers arising from an 85% surge in the global price of wheat early last month.
Consumers around Harare have raised complaints that some bakers have decided to maintain the price of bread at $1,00 and reduce quality to avoid loss of demand as a result of transaction complications related to change.
At present national daily bread consumption is estimated at over 1 million loaves.
“The $1,00 loaf is not longer pleasant to eat. It now tastes like a mealie-meal cookie, plus the loaf is now smaller than before,” Rayer Murima, a Harare resident, said Wednesday.
“I prefer the $1,10 one, but the problem is change. I can’t buy what I don’t want just to buy that bread.”
The increase has complicated transactions and become a big source of inflation, as consumers will be forced to buy unwanted goods even out transactions.
Siyachitema says the outstanding issue of coins must be addressed as a matter of urgency to ease the country’s crisis of change, which has the same effect on consumer income erosion as inflation.
She said: “The increase in the price of bread has further complicated transactions.” She said government should intervene in the stand-off between bankers and retailers regarding the note-coin exchanges.
“The accusations and counter-accusation between bankers and retailers are putting consumers at a loss. Government must get the two parties to agree on how the flow of coins can occur for the benefit of consumers,” said Siyachitema.
Retailers accuse banks of trying to “sell” coins, while lenders say rand-note exchanges should be based on the ruling exchange rate.