Pain as soaring food costs push inflation to 57-month high


The cost of food – the biggest element in inflation calculation – has risen remarkably in the past few months. file photo | nmg

Inflation has hit a fresh 57-month high of 11.48 per cent, lifted by higher food prices that have been on the rise since last year.

This has pushed the cost of living measure further outside the government’s preferred ceiling.

Official data shows inflation has increased from 10.28 per cent in March to 11.48 per cent in April – the highest rate since May 2012, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

“Between March and April, food and non-alcoholic drinks’ index increased by 3.55 per cent. This was mainly attributed to increase in prices of several food items including, Sukuma Wiki, spinach, maize flour, milk, potatoes, cabbages and maize grain,” the bureau said in a statement Friday.

The KNBS attributed the price rally to the recent drought that cut supply.

Food takes up the largest share (36 per cent) of the basket of goods that is used to calculate inflation, making it the main driver of the cost of living.

READ: Inflation erodes private sector workers’ wages

ALSO READ: IMF cuts Kenya growth outlook on persistent drought

Sukuma Wiki recorded the highest jump in prices by 63 per cent to Sh62 per kilogramme in April compared to Sh38 same month last year.

It is followed by cabbage which rose 54 per cent to Sh85 a kilo from Sh55.

Irish potatoes shot up nearly a third to Sh100 a kilo while a similar quantity of sugar rose 21 per cent to Sh136.

Rice (grade 1) rose eight per cent in the review period to Sh194 a kilo while grade 2 of the grain was up 12 per cent to Sh115.

Milk was up 12.8 per cent to Sh60.

The increases pushed the year-on-year food inflation to a high of 20.98 per cent in April, up from 18.56 per cent a month earlier, and 16.5 per cent in February.

Rain could ease prices

Kenya is in a rainy season, with expectations of improved food supply and lower prices in coming months.

The Central Bank of Kenya has set a target range for inflation at between 2.5 per cent and 7.5 per cent in the medium term, meaning the rate has stayed outside the bank’s ceiling for three months in a row.

The KNBS also cited rising electricity price as yet another driver of April’s inflation.

Homes that consumed 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) in April paid Sh3,700 up from Sh3,398 same month last year while those that used 50 units were set back Sh590 from Sh534.

Lower petrol and diesel prices were the only bright spot for consumers in terms of lower transport costs.