Tuesday, 25 January 2022

WHY BREAD PRICES ARE GOING UP

GRAIN Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) says the price of bread flour went up by 6,25 percent to $119 000 from $112 000 tonne with effect from 9 January 2022.

The successful 2021 command winter wheat programme has, however, helped subdue the impact of imported costs.

In a statement, GMAZ said the increase in bread flour has been necessitated by a number of factors which encompass the upward movement of the exchange rate on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) auction.

According to GMAZ surge in the use of substitute sources of power due to intermittent electricity supply by ZESA has led millers to rely on diesel-powered generators, thereby incurring equipment maintenance and other running costs.

Increases in the price of blending wheat, fuel, and labour costs have also been cited as some of the major causes of the rise in bread flour.

GMAZ highlighted that it was battling to contain local bread flour prices amid the escalating costs, particularly on imported wheat.

During the 2021 winter cropping season, 66 435 hectares were put under wheat, the third-highest hectarage since independence which has hitherto been surpassed by 2004 and 2005 hectarage of 70 585ha and 67 261 hectares respectively.

This according to GMAZ brought stability to the supply of bread and other related products, particularly during the festive season, where demand is traditionally high, it also brought major relief on the pricing of wheat products.

“The successful 2021 command winter wheat program has been critical in stabilizing supplies and prices of bread flour and other related products, especially this past festive season,” said Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, the GMAZ chair, in a statement.

The GMAZ was currently working to increase its wheat contracting programme in the forthcoming 2022 winter wheat season, which will complement Government’s command wheat programme.”

Zimbabwe requires at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year to meet the national bread requirements of nearly a million loaves a day and this is usually sustained by local millers importing wheat mainly from Russia, Canada, and Germany.

Unfortunately, heatwaves in the northern hemisphere and the general climate change across the globe have caused wheat yields to come down triggering increases in global wheat prices as a result of low supply.

Global wheat prices have risen to US$450 from US$415 per tonne which was obtained in the period before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Musarara, however, said, “The milling industry remains sensitive to the plight of consumers as aggregate demand is low at this time of the year.” Herald

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