Maize flour price breaches Sh200 mark as shortages bite

Packets of maize flour at a Nyeri supermarket on March 16, 2022. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

The price of maize flour has breached the Sh200 mark for a two-kilogramme packet, a move that is set to put upward pressure on inflation as Kenyans are grappling with a rise in the cost of other basic goods.

The increase in retail prices of the staple comes as a 90-kilogramme bag of the commodity hits Sh6,500, reflecting the impact of dwindling supplies.

A two-kilo packet of Jogoo brand is selling at Sh204, Pembe at Sh208 and Ajab is going for Sh206 from Sh150 last week while premium brands like Amaize and Hostess are now retailing at Sh204 and Sh220 respectively from Sh167 a week earlier.

Maize accounts for 80 percent of the total cost in the production of flour and the current jump to Sh6,500 per bag from Sh5,200 last week spells more pain for consumers.

Millers have warned the prices will continue rising in the coming days for a lack of local stocks and tightening supply from regional imports.

“Processors have run out of maize for milling and we are not getting stocks from Tanzania and Uganda, it is going to get tough for consumers with prices expected to increase further by the end of this week,” said Ken Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association (UGMA).

It is now cheaper for consumers to buy wheat flour as maize brands like Pembe and Ajab are retailing above that of their wheat brands which are both selling at Sh204 for a two-kilogramme packet.

These are the highest prices of maize flour to have been witnessed in Kenya’s history with the situation expected to worsen in the coming days.

Kenya’s inflation hit a 27-month last month on the back of a jump in the price of essential items like cooking oil, food, fuel and soap, squeezing household budgets and demand for goods and services.

The cost of living measure rose to 7.1 percent in May from 6.5 percent the prior month, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

UGMA, an umbrella body for small and medium-scale millers, said last week that half of its members had shut their businesses for lack of maize for milling.

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