Rising maize prices push up flour prices to a four-year high


An attendant arranges packets of maize flour at Samrat supermarket in Nyeri town on July 3, 2019. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

The maize flour price continues to rise on the back of expensive grains in the market, worsening the plight of households already grappling with an increase in the cost of other basic commodities and sparking fears of higher inflation.

The cost of the staple on the shelves is steadily rising to levels that were last seen in 2018 with some brands of a two-kilogramme packet of flour hitting a high of Sh134 with millers attributing the rising prices on expensive maize.

“The pressure for maize is going up,” said Capwell Industries chief executive Rajan Shah in an interview with the Business Daily.

Popular brands such as Dola, Pembe, Ajab, Jogoo and Soko are now trading at Sh133, Sh124, Sh127, Sh122 and Sh123 respectively for a two-kilo packet at major retail outlets from an average of Sh108 in December.

High-end brands like Amaize and Hostess are selling at Sh149 for a two-kilo packet.

Millers had warned of an impending rise in the cost of flour because of limited maize stocks in the market as farmers hoard their produce in anticipation of an increase in prices.

They had forecasted the price would touch the Sh130 mark for a two-kilogramme packet.

The price of maize, which has been steadily rising since December, is now trading at a high of between Sh3,250 and Sh3,500 for a 90-kg bag when delivered to millers in Nairobi from a low of Sh2,300 in early December, impacting negatively on the cost of flour.

National Cereals and Produce Board was forced in December to increase the price of maize by Sh300 to woo farmers in the wake of a shortage.

The rising cost of both maize and flour will pile pressure on the cost of living, coming at a time when the prices of other household goods such as sugar and milk have remained high in recent days.

Inflation, which is a measure of change in the cost of living, fell marginally to 5.37 percent in January from 5.8 percent in December, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The food and non-alcoholic drinks index, which accounts for a third of the inflation basket, rose nine percent from a year earlier.

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