BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA
Bakers yesterday hiked the price of bread for the fifth time this year by 28,57% from $7 to $9 for a standard loaf, adding pressure on citizens grappling with poor earnings.
The price of bread has been continuously going up since last year, owing to the challenging economic conditions which have been characterised by shortages of foreign currency, wheat, fuel and rising inflation. This has increased the cost of production.
Asked to comment on the increase, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) spokesperson Garikai Chaunza referred questions to the National Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ).
NBAZ president Ngoni Mazango could not be drawn into commenting, saying he was in a meeting for the better part of the day.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe chairperson Philip Bvumbe said the continuous increase in bread prices was disheartening. He called on government to intervene in order to come up with a solution to contain the increases.
“It is very disheartening that bread prices are continuously going up. I think what needs to be done is for government to intervene, they need to sit down with bakers, millers and importers of wheat in order to find ways to contain these bread price increases, especially on the importation of wheat,” Bvumbe said.
“The importers of wheat are using their own money to purchase wheat and they push the cost to millers who also push the cost to bakers and finally bakers push the cost to consumers. Most of the bakers are using diesel to run their bakeries. With the non- availability of diesel and increases in diesel prices, the use of diesel is proving to be costly.”
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He said there was need for a holistic approach to ensure that both consumers and bakers are sustained.
“There is need for a holistic approach because if we say that bakers need to reduce bread prices, while they are incurring costs that need to be covered, they will just withdraw and there won’t be any bread available in the market. Now that children have opened schools, bread is the easiest staple food for them to eat as soon as they get home from school,” Bvumbe said.
“We say bakers have to reduce the prices and they will say if we do that we won’t be able to survive the business, hence, bread will then be available only in the parallel market. So there is need for a holistic approach so that both consumers and manufacturers are catered for.”
Last year, bread prices went up thrice from 90 cents to $1,10 before shooting to $1,40.
This year, in February, bread prices escalated again with a standard loaf selling for $2,60 ,as bakers cited the rising cost of production after government failed to provide support to maintain the price of $1,40 at the time.
Since then, bread prices have gone from $2,60 to $3,50 before reaching $7 a few weeks back.