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Tough times as ‘unga’ prices set to rise

maize flour

Retail prices of maize flour are expected to go up from Monday following the expiry of the six-month government subsidy on December 31.

Checks in various supermarkets across the country Thursday showed that most of them were clearing their last stock of the Sh90 2kg packet subsidised unga.

Popular brands like Pembe, Jogoo and Soko were scarce on most shelves, a sign of the impending price hike.

At the Koinange branch of Uchumi Supermarket in Nairobi, a supervisor said millers had already circulated the new price list which will take effect as from Monday next week.

“The millers have already circulated the new price list,” he told the Nation late yesterday, even though he refused to give the details on the list. “We are not allowed to give you the price list before it takes effect. But certainly the new prices take effect on Monday,” he said.

ISSUED NOTICE

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At the Muindi Mbingu Street, Nairobi, Tuskys, a staffer confirmed that the millers had issued a similar notice.

“They have intimated the impending price increase but they have not told us when this will be effected or the extent of the increase,” the supervisor said.

At the Kenyatta Avenue branch, the staff were busy restocking their shelves with the remaining stock of the subsidised maize flour.

At Tuskys branches on Accra road, Ronald Ngala and Hakati road, only Pema brand was available retailing at Sh90.

Tuskys Pioneer had a few packets of Pema and Jimbi brands.

The management said the supermarket chain is still left with an estimated 1,200 packets of the subsidised maize flour that they are racing against time to sell before the deadline by the government.

RETAILING AT SH90

The brands that were still retailing at Sh90 per 2kg were Pema, Jimbi and Kifaru maize flour, with the management estimating that the stock would run out within two days and had  restrictions of one packet per person.

“Following the directive by the Agriculture Cabinet secretary on Wednesday, we are clearing the stock that we had left, which we approximate to run out by Saturday as customers can now pick whatever number of pieces they want,” said one of the officials at the supermarket.

At Nakumatt City Hall, there was no subsidised maize flour at the shelves, with only Hostess maize flour retailing at Sh173 hogging the lonely shelf.

A similar situation was witnessed at Uchumi Aga Khan Walk where there were no stocks of the subsidised maize flour.

At Eastmatt supermarket branches on Mfangano Street, there were few packets of government subsidised maize flour available on the shelves.

The brands included Jimbi, Ndovu, Pembe, Shujaa, Jogoo, Mama and 210.

SUBSIDY

The case was similar in Karrymatt supermarket on Moi Avenue that had only Paa brand selling at Sh100 notwithstanding that it is supposed to go for Sh90.

Shoppers at Choppies, formally Ukwala supermarket on Hakai Road complained that they were not getting their favourite unga brands.

“I have been to about six supermarkets now but I can’t get my brand. I may be forced to buy what I am not used to,” a customer said.

In all the outlets, customers bought the commodity in large quantities perhaps before the end of the government subsidy programme.

Employees in  most outlets Nation visited  said the day’s supplies that were expected had not arrived. This could be taken to mean buying time before releasing them at high prices.

“They were supposed to make the deliveries today but none has been made so far,” an employee at Tuskys supermarket Daima on Accra road said.

In Mombasa, supermarket attendants said the price of a 2kg packet of maize flour is expected to  go up Friday.

Tuskys supermarket stocked one brand of the subsidised  flour.

HIGHER PRICE

At Budget Outlet along Moi Avenue, an official confirmed the stock is almost over, saying they are expecting more at a higher price.

“Chances are the price will be increased today after the new stock comes in. Our buying price from the Millers will determine the next price of the flour,” he said.

However, he said that the price would be set at an average Sh120 for a two-kilogramme packet of Maize Flour.

“It used to come at Sh83 that is why we sold at Sh90 per packet. We cannot go over Sh120. It might range between Sh115 to Sh119.”

He said they were forced to limit  the number of packets of maize flour that a customer could purchase.

In Nyeri, most supermarkets had ran out of stock of the subsidised flour with those who had indicating it was likely to run out within days.

In major outlets, only Naivas supermarket had stocked the subsidised commodity.

OUT OF STOCK

The supermarket customer care desk, however, warned that the prices will go up as suppliers reported that they are running out of stock of the Sh90 unga. The retailer, however, noted that the prices will be defined by millers.

“It will depend on how much the suppliers sell to us. But it will go up,” Ms Ikua added.

In other supermarkets like Samrat and Mathai, the cheapest unga on the shelves is currently going for between Sh125 and Sh185.

The government in May last year announced Sh6 billion subsidy on maize imports to help lower the cost of flour, which had shot up due to drought and poor planning.

The subsidy lowered the price of a 90kg bag of maize to Sh2,300 from above Sh4,000 with taxpayers offering importers a rebate or the difference of about Sh1,700.

MARKET PRICE

This has kept the cost of the two-kg packet of flour at Sh90 from a high of Sh153 in April.

The subsidised flour price was backed by a Kenya Gazette notice that criminalised the sale of the product above Sh90.

Millers will now revert to the market price of maize, which will influence by the purchase of the grain by the government to replenish the strategic food reserves.

The government is buying a bag from farmers at Sh3,200 in a Sh6.7 billion plan. Millers say the cost of getting the bag from the farmers to mills will rise to Sh3,400 when transport costs are factored in.

: nation.co.ke

 

 

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