Senior Business Reporter
THE recent spike in mealie-meal and flour prices have been attributed to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which has seen an increase in international fuel prices, a key cost driver in production and an upward review of prices by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Last week, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) announced a 52 percent and 31 percent increase for mealie-meal and flour respectively.
This saw the price of a 10kg mealie-meal jumping to ZW$1 665 up from ZW$1 099. A metric tonne of flour increased from ZW$164 523 to ZW$215 000.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CZI) monthly price review for March, the cost of living for a family of six went up by 17,9 percent to about ZW$93 000 for basic goods.
GMAZ chairman, Mr Tafadzwa Musara, said the increases were informed by an upward review by GMB, rising costs in fuel and packaging.
“The increase on mealie-meal and flour last week was largely informed by an increase of grain price by Grain Marketing Board,” he said.
“However, we have issues of fuel and packaging too.
“Therefore, any movement in the price of crude oil will affect our cost of buying diesel and packaging. We also had a huge increase in cost of packaging, which we buy locally.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister, Raj Modi, said the Russia-Ukraine has seen a rise in global fuel prices, a development that affects production line.
“The justification for the increase is well known by everyone, it’s because of the war (Ukraine-Russia war),” he said.
“The price of fuel, which is the lifeline for any production chain in any industry went up.
To import and transport any raw materials you need fuel.
“It’s not only in Zimbabwe that food prices have gone up. It’s the world over.
However, if there was no war, we would not be talking of prices increases,” added Modi.
Last week, GMAZ said the increases in commercial white maize prices from ZW$50 000 to ZW$75 000 and wheat from ZW$66 000 per tonne to ZW$56 000 “were substantial and millers cannot absorb them”.
The association said it was restrainful in coming up with new prices.
“We assure the consuming public that our scientific consumption model remain reasonable, justified and we have been restrainful in our cost accumulation,” reads part of the statement.
Last year, the country had a bumper harvest of more than 2,7 million tonnes of maize following the above-to-normal rains across the country during the 2020-2021 summer cropping season, the highest in 20 years.
Prices for cooking oil, mealie-meal, sugar, rice and milk have been on the increase recently.
Although retail shops charge using the local currency, their prices are dependent on the black market exchange rate which keeps changing.
President Mnangagwa recently said the Russia and Ukraine conflict, which has spawned a surge in global food prices and disruption of world markets and supply chains, is a wake-up call for Zimbabwe on the need to ensure food security.