Zimbabwe Mealie-Meal Price Hike Looms

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A MASSIVE retail price hike for mealie meal is looming in Zimbabwe starting Friday after the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) substantially increased the price of maize.

The price is set to rise by at least 40% after GMB started selling grain to millers at phenomenally higher prices on Tuesday.

The price has incrementally risen by 38% over a 60-day period to February 1.

Sources in the grain sector and in government said the increase in the price of mealie meal is likely to push the cost of other basic commodities up.

It also comes at a time inflation has risen exponentially over the past month, with United States dollar now trading at 1:220 on the parallel market.

Information emerging by Wednesday indicates that the GMB, whose officials were unreachable for comment, has been increasing the cost of maize every two weeks between December and January.

They also marked the beginning of February with another significant hike.

Legally, GMB has the monopoly over trade in maize in Zimbabwe.

“The GMB has increased the price of maize to millers every two weeks for the past 60 days and given that government has removed the subsidy on the product, we are going to see a significant jump in the price of mealie meal starting Friday,” a source said.

“During the first week of December, the cost of maize was ZW$27 000 per tonne. It went up to ZW$32 000 by the end of that Month before jumping to ZW$38 000 mid-January. On February 1, the price has gone up to ZW$43 000 per tonne,” the source said.

“Millers as a such left with no option but increase the cost of the commodity, which in turn will affect the consumer. The problem really is that the government quietly increases the price of maize having removed subsidies and we are going into by-elections on March 26 which are predominantly urban and the electorate comprises of those that will be affected most by the price hike,” the source added.

“Ultimately, it is the burden is tacitly left for millers who have to face the wrath of the consumers. When millers increase the price of mealie meal, they (government) go to town but when they increase the price of maize, they keep quiet.”

A 10kgs packet of roller meal costs ZW$885 while refined maize meals costs ZW$992, according to prices in most retail outlets checked by NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday afternoon.

This means as of Friday when the prices hike takes effect, roller meal will be costing ZW$1 239 while refined maize meal will cost ZW$1 388.

Watchers immediately warned the maize meal price increase could have a knock-on effect on the price of other goods.

“This will affect the price of stock feed and ultimately meat and milk. Also, when the price of such a stapple goes up, everything else goes up as well,” in sector expert said.

Grain Millers Association chairman Tafadzwa Musarara declined to comment on the matter saying: “I cannot comment on that now. We are having our commercial food security meeting on Thursday, I can comment after that.” – Newzim