Zim bread price skyrockets

Zimbabwean flag
Zimbabwean flag. File picture Zimbabwean flag
Image: Natanael Alfredo Nemanita Ginting

The price of bread, Zimbabwe’s second most-consumed staple, jumped 60% overnight due to escalating costs of production, the national bakers’ association said on Wednesday, adding more woes to consumers grappling with triple-digit inflation.

Zimbabweans are experiencing severe economic hardship that has evoked memories of the hyperinflation horrors during late president Robert Mugabe’s rule, when citizens lost pensions and savings and businesses were forced to shut down.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe after an army coup in 2017, has called for patience as his government struggles to convince Zimbabweans that its policies will revive an economy stricken by shortages of electricity, fuel and medicines and a drought that hit farm output.

National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe president Denis Wala said the price of fuel and electricity, as well as rolling power cuts that forced producers to use diesel generators, had pushed up the cost of producing bread.

“Bakers cannot continue to absorb all these costs; that is why we have had to increase the price,” Wala said.

Bread now costs Z$15 (62c) a loaf, up from Z$9.45 (39c) on Tuesday. But shortages persisted on Wednesday, with many shops saying they had not received supplies.

Zimbabwe imports most of its annual requirement of 400,000 tonnes of wheat, but acute shortages of dollars have constrained imports.

Though farmers have started harvesting wheat, production is expected to fall below the 160,600 tonnes of 2018, farmers groups say.