RETAIL prices for mealie-meal in Lusaka have continued to increase to as high as K100 with some traders experiencing shortages of the commodity.
Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was last November directed to make maize grain available to, and enter into legally binding contracts with, millers interested in participating in a voluntary maize-buying programme.This followed an appeal by millers to the government to consider making more maize available amid dwindling stocks nationally.
The government’s concessionary measure was aimed at helping millers access cheaper maize that would help cushion the skyrocketing mealie-meal prices for 25Kg bags to K55 and K70 for roller and breakfast meals respectively.
But a check around several outlets in Lusaka on Wednesday revealed that the retail price of the staple food has been steadily rising ranging from K74.99 to as high as K100.00 in some places.
A 25kg breakfast bag of Simba’s No 1 brand was found selling at a staggering K100.00 at Carib Meat and Meat Products in Northmead, up from K90 last December.
At Chelstone market, prices of the commodity were also found to have increased with a 25Kg breakfast bag of Star at K90, while the Simba No 1 brand also went up to K95 from an average K85 last December.
Outlets in Kalingalinga were selling Mushe brand at K85, as traders spoken to feared that the rising costs of the commodity were likely to continue amidst intermittent shortages of stocks.
At Kabwata market, prices of the staple were as high as K93 for a 25kg breakfast bag of Simba’s No 1, while Dariyaye Milling’s “Champion” brand had jumped to K90, up from K88 last December.
Superior Milling 25kg roller bags of the commodity on the other hand were selling at K70.
Traders spoken to explained that the increment in prices was linked to higher prices of mealie-meal being sourced at the depots.
“We usually get from the depots; that is where the prices start from or is invoked. When you go to the depots, you find that they have increased but millers haven’t increased. They [also] delay to bring us the stocks; that is why we are increasing the prices,” Lawrence Chanakira said in an interview in Kabwata.
He said business so far had been slow as traders in the area were experiencing stock shortages, while consumers were feeling the pinch of having to fork out large amounts to buy the staple food.
“Business has been a little bit slow because you find that some days, we had completely no stocks. When customers are complaining, even us we feel that. But the most important part is the depots, that is where prices are being invoked; they say because they are not receiving the stocks,” said Chanakira.
However, other retail outlets like Pick ‘n’ Pay in Woodlands were selling National Milling 25kg breakfast bags at K75.50, while Mother’s Pride at Spar Arcades is currently at K76.00
Prices at Melissa in Northmead had also increased to K80 for the Choma Milling brand from K79 last December, while Shoprite at Twin Palm Shopping Mall was selling the Superior Milling brand at K74.99 for 25Kg breakfast bags, but stocks had completely run out by the close of business leaving consumers frustrated.