There is a skyrocketing increase in the price of bread across the country. According to investigations by our Correspondents, it is a situation attributed to the increased price in flour and other ingredients.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the increase, which is also blamed on the increase in the foreign exchange (FOREX) rate has affected bakers in the country.
However, while there is a skyrocketing increase in the price of bread as well as scarcity in some communities from high-quality confectioners, there is generally scarcity of local bread due to the high cost of production.
LEADERSHIP Sunday investigations show that there are strong indications that businesses in the food supply chain, is generally suffering and many would go under amid an increase in the price of petrol which is presently at N160.
Also, an investigation by the paper revealed that the activities of bandits and farmers/herders crisis in some states in the north, have led to a cut in input supplies as farmhands cannot get to work.
The public relations officer (PRO) Abuja Masters Baker’s Association, Nura Musa, said they have no alternative than to increase the price to reflect the market reality and the continuous increase in FOREX.
“The prices of bread has increased because all ingredients used for production have increased in the market. Flour that we used to buy for about N7,000 is now 14,500, the price of butter has increased and all ingredients used for production have also increased.
‘’Butter has increased from N6,000 to N10,200. Even the packaging material has increased from N7 to N10. The price of sugar has increased. The tariff has increased and diesel price has increased,’’ he said.
Musa also decried the level of double taxation by some government agencies in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
According to him, ‘’The government should assist and waive the multiple taxations we are having from local government and state governments.
‘’For the survival fund, they should create something directly for us the bakers as it stands, the bakery owners as well so we can have that relief.
‘’And again, if the federal government can revisit cassava bread, because 80 percent of the bread ingredients we use are imported. We spend over N200bn on wheat yearly. By the time we reduce the usage for cassava we will create a market, job opportunities, reduce the price of bread and reduce dependence on foreign countries.”
The managing director, Nextar Bakery, Chief Mrs Adewumi Bukola, said, “The increase in the price of raw materials such as flour, milk, jar, and all other items have increased by 50 per cent.”
She said most of the ingredients used for bread are imported, adding that factories in most of these countries are not functional due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, ‘’You know the little stock the people have, is what is available. And you know the dollar price has increased, so they don’t want to sell the product out. Some prefer to hoard it because they are scared of what the future holds. Since the FOREX rate has increased the price of flour must increase.
‘’People are afraid of selling all the products they have and not be able to restock, so they are keeping it for December. We are begging the government to intervene and help the industry.”
Meanwhile, as the price of bread continues to rise in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), residents have lamented the situation in an interview with our reporter.
A resident of Lugbe, Abuja, Mohammed Kabiru expressed shock at the sudden increase of the price of bread in Abuja markets.
According to him, a loaf of bread which was sold last week for N120 is now selling at N150, the one for N200 now sells for N300, while a loaf, which was sold for N300 is now selling at the rate of N350 or N400 depending on the markets.
Kabiru noted that the increase might deny many residents their staple food, adding that something urgent must be done to reduce the price and prevent it from a further rise.
He attributed the increase to the recent pronouncement by the Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) and the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) to the rising cost of ingredients for producing bread.
In Akwa Ibom, the prices of bread and other confectioneries have been increased by the Master Bread Association in the state.
The association has earlier given seven days ultimatum for their members to embark on strike to protest against the high cost of baking items.
The zonal chairman, Uyo Master Bakers Association, Mr Benson Effiong, while speaking with newsmen said that the entire development is unfortunate, as they experience the skyrocketing increase in raw materials like butter, sugar, flour and other condiments.
He explained that owing to increasing prices of raw materials used in making bread, bakers have no alternative than to raise the prices of the product which serves as a staple food in many homes.
The zonal chairman said businesses had become comatose, due to incessant increase in the price of baking ingredients.
“Three, four months ago before the lockdown, the baking flour that is being sold now at N18, 500 was sold at N10, N700. Sugar that is now at N21, 000 was sold at N13, 500 before the lockdown.
“Even yeast, the basic material that we use in baking bread has added difference of two, three thousand naira. Before now, people were buying the jumbo sized bread at N500 but with the review, it has increased by N50 or N100 addition,” he said.
Effiong noted that over the last six months the prices of flour, sugar and other baking ingredients had skyrocketed without a corresponding increase in prices of bread by member bakeries.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to help the industry, by supporting them in whatever way they could to help them with access to foreign exchange.
In Kaduna, some bakers in the metropolis have decried the high cost of flour, sugar and other materials affecting bread production.
Our Correspondents observed that there is no scarcity of bread in Kaduna, though some bakers and retailers have added the price.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, a baker, Sonny Eke, at Television, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis, said although they may not increase the price of a loaf of bread but may reduce the size, to make a profit.
Eke said, “The prices of flour, sugar, butter and other ingredients we used have gone up shortly after the lockdown. Most of our customers here are low-income earners and they can’t afford to pay more. For that, we decided to reduce the size of our product for the same amount.
Another baker, in Ungwan Yelwa, James Apama, said the daily sales have dropped. “Before, we used to sell many loaves of bread but now, the reverse is the case. We are not producing much like before because the demand is low, maybe it is because of the hardship Nigerians are facing.
‘’Sure the quality will be reduced as the materials are expensive to buy now. We are appealing to the government to look into this issue because many people use bread for breakfast,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, bakers in Sokoto have said the reason behind the recent slight upward review of the pieces of bread, was to ensure that they stay afloat in the trade.
Some of the bakers who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday, argued that the blame should go to the federal government for closing borders without making adequate arrangements for local production capacity to meet market demands.
According to them, the closure of the border has made it a monopolistic market avenue for the few companies that manufacture flour, to hike their price as a result of high demands.
One of the bakers, Shehu Kainwuri said, prior to the border closure, they were buying flour at a considerable amount. He added however that the price of the same flour (50kg) has gone high lately, hence the reason for their association to increase prices of their loaves.
The increment in prices indicates that for bread, N50 more has been added.
Expressing their concern over how such increment has equally affected their turnover, the bakers decried that they are forced to reduce the quantity of production because of low patronage from retailers.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday met with some of the retailers along the Kano road adjacent Federal Government College (FGC) within the state metropolis, they said the hike in prices of bread has led to a reduction of purchase by consumers.
Speaking to a parent who said he used to buy at least two loaves of big bread for his family before the sudden increment, however added that he cannot even buy a single loaf for them now, because of the economic hardship caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, bread bakers across Osun State have blamed the hike in the price of the essential commodity on an increase in the price of ingredients of production.
Recently, bakers in Osun went on a one-week strike action, to alert the public of their plight and pleaded to the government to address the issues that led to the rise in the price of the ingredients.
Sequel to the failure of the government to act promptly, bakers resumed with a hike in price.
Consumers woke up to see prices of loaves of bread rise as follows: N50 to N70, N70 to N100, N100 to N120, 150 to N200.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday in Osogbo, Mrs Bola Ademuyiwa, a consumer lamented on the hike, especially with the economic situation of the people.
While appealing for government intervention, Ademuyiwa said her household has turned to yam as an alternative to bread.
A baker, Salaudeen Adisa of Oriire Bread, Osogbo, blamed the hike in price on the rising cost of ingredients occasioned by a hike in electricity tariff, fuel price and others, adding that even the increase introduced is far low compared to the cost of production.