Prices of some basic commodities, including bread, sugar and mealie-meal, have gone up over the last month, marginally raising the cost of living for urban households.
Figures from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe show minor increases in the cost of the family food basket, driven largely by hikes in prices of bread, mealie-meal, sugar, tea leaves, milk, rice and laundry bars. These price movements, according to the consumer watchdog, are a result of fuel price fluctuations, multi-tier pricing and profiteering retailers.
The price of a standard loaf of bread went up yesterday from US$0,90 to US$1.
According to the CCZ’s December 2017 Report, the monthly food basket for a family of six increased by roughly US$4,50.
Reads the report in part: “The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s has gone up. The low-income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six increased from the end-October figure of US$593,55 to US$598,16 by end of November 2017, showing an increase of US$4,61 or 0,72 percent.
“As CCZ, we assume the increase in prices could be attributed to various factors, these include fluctuation of fuel price, multi-tier pricing by retailers: some supermarkets have taken advantage of these situations by increasing the prices of basic commodities by small amounts such as 1c, 2c, 3c to 40c and consumers are not able to notice the change.”
The report continues: “The increase in prices could also be attributed to the festive season where retailers take advantage of consumers having much to spend. The use of mobile money has also been noted as attributing to an increase in basic commodities, especially at retail shops that do not have merchant codes and charge an extra percentage on goods.
“(Because of) avian flu that has struck Zimbabwe’s poultry market and also the banning of poultry from South Africa because of the same, there has been a shortage of eggs on the market and some increase in poultry meat. We also assume that this has been the cause of the increase in prices of beef products.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said yesterday’s bread price hike was arbitrary.
Mr Mutashu sai:, “It is true, the price of bread went up (yesterday morning). I have spoken to retail managers and they confirmed that but most of the stock that came in (yesterday) was at the old price.
“Bakers have increased the price of bread by about 10 percent, meaning a loaf that was selling at 90c is now US$1 and so on, because retailers put a mark-up of 10 percent.
“We have not been consulted on this and clearly, this is just an arbitrary move. From where we stand, we are also trying to know why they hiked the price.”
Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara added: “To us, it’s just outside economics. It could be politics at play or something like that. We don’t bake bread, but we are bakers’ biggest raw material supplier and need to acquit ourselves in that regard because flour prices have not gone up since 2008.
“The price of flour has remained at US$32 for 50kg, and if we have not increased our prices, what could have caused them to increase theirs? Wheat from Command Agriculture was being sold to millers at subsidised prices in order to manage the price of bread.”
National Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Ngoni Mazango could not be reached for comment.
At Zanu-PF’s Extraordinary Congress in Harare last Friday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa encouraged business to refrain from unjustified price reviews.
He said: “Meanwhile, I exhort all retailers and service providers to desist from wantonly increasing prices. I urge us to stop profiteering tendencies. Let us give our new economic era a chance. We can achieve this by working together and putting our nation first.”