The price of maize meal is set to go up after manufacturers of packaging material raised the cost of their material by over 500 percent.
Industry sources told the Daily News yesterday that millers may also be forced to sell the product in greenbacks because the manufacturers of packaging material are now demanding payment in United States dollars, although this could not be corroborated by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), led by Tafadzwa Musarara.
These developments have triggered an emergency millers’ meeting to be held in Harare tomorrow at which GMAZ members will discuss the pricing of maize meal and consider the impact of the lifting of Statutory Instrument (SI) 122 on the industry.
In a statement, GMAZ general manager Lynette Veremu, said millers will increase the price of maize meal unless the cost of packaging material is reviewed downwards.
“Not only have they increased the prices by — in some instances 700 percent — but they are also demanding their payments in foreign currency and this is the reason why we have arranged this meeting with them so that we deliberate on the implications to consumers,” Veremu said, without giving indicative prices.
Maize meal is a common food consumed in the country.
The possibility of a price increase would negatively impact on the cost of living and burdens households.
A staple for Zimbabwean households, accounting for roughly half of the average caloric intake for the country’ citizens nationally, the annual consumption for maize should be roughly 1,5 million metric tonnes (MT).
This is based on a population of 12,6 million people and 120 kilos of maize consumed/person.
Maize harvest have, however, been below the expected two million MTs, with the balance being imported from mainly Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique.
Maize typically accounts for 80-90 percent of domestic staple production, with sorghum and millet accounting for the minor staples (small grains) within the country.
Wheat is also consumed, but in smaller quantities than maize, accounting for roughly 10 percent of national caloric intake and typically more in urban areas in the form of bread.
The increase in the cost of packaging could have a domino effect on prices of other products such as flour and bread.
In terms of the new pricing structure for the packaging, a plastic for a loaf of bread is now going for 22 cents from three cents, while that for a five kilogrammes packet of mealie meal has gone up from 20 cents to 37 cents.
The price of a 10kg packet of maize meal has increased from 37 cents to 60 cents, with that of a 20kg packet rising from 40 cents to 89 cents.
A 50 kilogrammes container now fetches $1,20 from 56 cents.
According to GMAZ, polypropylene which was initially being sold at $1,34 in bond note or Real Time Gross Settlement transfers is now priced at US$2,76, while laminating plastic which was $2 per five kg is now costing $6 per kg.
A 10kg packet of mealie meal is currently going for $5,50.
Veremu said tomorrow’s meeting will also review the impact of the lifting of SI 122 to allow locals to import basic goods that include cooking oil, animal oils, baked beans, body creams, cereals, cement, cheese, coffee creamers, fertilisers, steel roofing sheets, ice cream, margarine, packaging materials, peanut butter, potato crisps, shoe polish, soap, synthetic hair and yogurt.
“We have also invited to the meeting South African companies which are also in the packaging material manufacturing business so that we share and exchange views, all in an effort to find a workable solution that does not affect the already burdened consumer whom all the costs are extended to,” she said.
Zimbabwe has been food insecure for the past few years, following drought seasons that rocked the country, forcing government to import maize from Zambia to supplement the little production realised across the country.
Meanwhile, GMAZ, has also dispatched 200 trucks to transport wheat which has been held up in Beira, Mozambique for the past month, following transport logistical delays by the National Railways of Zimbabwe to ferry the consignment into the country.
The shortages of wheat were contributing to the flour and bread shortages in recent weeks.…millers may charge in forex.