Zimbabweans should brace for another bread price hike after the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) increased the price of wheat by 30%, industry officials said yesterday.
It is understood that GMB increased wheat prices from $239 000 to $310 000 per tonne in local currency, or US$680 at the interbank rate.
National Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Dennis Walla said players in the sector would be forced to also increase the bread price to cover operational costs.
“Wheat is a major component in the baking of bread. So when GMB increases the price, it affects the pricing of bread,” he said in an interview.
A loaf of bread is currently pegged at $790 or US$1,75 using the interbank rate in retail shops. On the streets, bread is being sold for US$1 plus $200 to $300.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe corporate affairs manager Andrew Kunambura said they were trying to negotiate with GMB over the latest wheat price increase.
“I can confirm that there are price increases, but there are negotiations to try and find a way of preventing further increases in the bread value chain,” he said.
GMB chief executive Rockie Mutenha could not be reached for comment.
However, reports indicate that GMB has also increased the producer price of maize and traditional grains from $75 000 to $100 000, but maintained the price of US$90.
The producer price of a tonne of soya beans is now $228 666 up from
$171 495, but is unchanged at US$90 in foreign currency.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the looming bread price increase was a sad development for the country’s workforce, already grappling with the rising cost of living while salaries remain stagnant.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said further worsening the situation was that employers were struggling to keep pace with rising operational costs in an inflationary environment.
“Bread is a staple food. Every family relies on bread. Once you increase the cost of wheat, it automatically affects the majority of people. Those that are high class in society go out for lunch and dinner, but the majority survive on bread to get through the day,” Moyo said.
“Families might not be able to get the food that they always depend on. It is a sad development at a time when collective bargaining in various sectors has not been producing anything. There are deadlocks, people are not concluding any agreements. Employers are not raising wages.”
Inflation reached 256,9% in July, from 191,6% recorded in June, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.
National Consumer Rights Association spokesperson Effie Ncube said the bread price hike would increase hunger in the country.
“The increase in the price of wheat will inevitably drive up the price of bread and related confectioneries and as such, sink even more people below the food poverty line. This will contribute to increased hunger in the country, an outcome that will have devastating consequences,” Ncube said.