The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has revealed that the Competition and Tariff Commission is investigating the local bread industry for possible price collusion, and hopes the outcome will result in a cut in the price of bread.
Bakers in August raised the price of the commodity by up to 10% in response to an increase in the price of flour following an 85% spike in the global price of wheat early that month.
“CCZ looks forward to the investigation of price collusion by the Competition and Tariff Commission which hopefully will result in bread price being reviewed downward as bread is a basic need for families,” the consumer watchdog said in its monthly consumer report for September.
The investigation comes as consumers allege bakers have compromised on the quality of bread to maximise returns.
In the consumer report, CCZ also noted that locally-manufactured goods are generally more expensive than imports and keep rising in prices,
despite an improvement in the manufacturing flow.
“Locally manufactured products have increased on the market. However, they are still not at competitive prices and levels as compared to imported products,” the consumer watchdog said, citing margarine, tea leaves and chicken as examples.
“Imported margarine has gone up considerably by $0,15 whilst locally produced margarine is even higher priced. Tea leaves have gone up by $0,20.
“Chicken which had become a popular alternative for beef, because there were cheaper imports, has
become very expensive at approximately $7,50 for 2kg for locally produced chicken. Even though the ban on imported chicken was removed, there is hardly any imported chicken in the supermarkets.”
According to CCZ, the consumer basket marginally decreased by 0,01% to $483,88 in September from $487,01 in August, reflecting a general stability in prices during the month.
The food basket decreased 0,03% to $129,56 from $132,93.
Including detergents, the food basket decreased 0,02% to $139,88 from $143,01.
But the basket for transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear remained flat at $344.
The consumer watchdog also noted that water supply is still a problem in most households, as they are still running dry. CCZ urged utilities and their parent ministries to address the challenges so as to maintain a balance between the cost of services and the wages currently being offered.