Prices of bread in Enugu state may rise by 200 per cent before the end of the year, a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has revealed.
The development is causing some level of anxiety on the part of both the producers and consumers.
Already, price of bread has doubled since August through to October 2021, forcing the product out of reach of many families and lovers of bread.
A survey conducted by NAN Wednesday in Enugu showed the price may likely jump further in November and December, if not controlled.
The development has so far been blamed on incessant increases in the prices of baking materials, factory rent and wages, which had made it difficult for the bakers to make a profit or break even.
The persistent increases in the cost of baking materials, in particular, has forced many bakers out of the business, and left others seeking government’s intervention to survive, the survey revealed.
In May, the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) directed its members nationwide to increase prices of bread and other items by 30 per cent due to the prevailing economic situation of the country.
Some of the producers who spoke to NAN said they jerked up the price due to high cost of production, as well as prices of such materials as sugar, butter, yeast and flour.
This, they said, has reduced the quantity and quality of bread produced in the state, eliminating bread as a major food for the common man and making it food for the rich.
A baker, Mr. Peter Ohajiuba said he was tired of the bread business due to the uncontrollable costs associated with it.
“It is surprising and unbelievable how the cost of baking materials keep increasing on daily basis. We no longer produce the quantity we used to produce and people are complaining about the prices at which we sell it,” he said.
The baker identified flour as being sold at N10, 000 in August, but had risen to N22,000, a bag of sugar sold for N14,500 was now N21,000, Butter sold for N11,000 is now selling at N21,000, Nylon, which sold for N8, is now sold at N13. 50 kobo and gas, which sold for N3, 500 is now N7, 500.
Ohajiuba stressed further that he pays a monthly rent of N20,000 and pays wages ranging from N20,000 to N35, 000, depending on the job they do.
“With all these running costs, how can one make gain, the major aim of venturing into any business,” he asked?
According to him, many bread factories in the state had shut their operations due to unaccommodated running expenses.
He added that if nothing was done before October ending, the unit price of bread would double.
Ohajiuba noted that the material they used in making one bag of flour early 2021 was now used to make half a bag.
Another baker, Uchenna Okafor said that as a matter of urgency, the government should look into the cost of these materials, as well as provide loans to bakers to produce more bread and employ more workers.
“There is no market as people complain of no money, coupled with our having to pay workers. They will become a nuisance to the society if we are forced to sack them and close down our businesses.
“A price control mechanism should be put in place to monitor the cost of things in the market, to enable us meet our target and demands,” he suggested.
He reiterated that if they bought materials at a lower rate, they would sell to customers at a cheaper rate.
A retailer, Mrs. Chika Aliejim said the sizes of bread she bought for N550 a few months ago had gone up to N800, the one of N350 now sold at N600 and the one of N200 sold at N500.
“The funny thing is that the quantity of bread these days is laughable as an individual can finish N300 loaf of bread and will still be hungry.
“I usually make gain of N80 on one bread, but now I make only N20 and we were told that raw materials for making the bread had gone up,” she said.
CSO, baker speak
In a reaction, Executive Director Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA) Ezenwa Nwangwu, said Nigeria had been “struggling with convulsions resulting from debilitating effects of IMF-World bank economic prescriptions even now worsened and compounded by COVID-19 , corruption, insecurity/terrorism in some parts of the country and dwindling oil revenue.”
He said, “the concomitant effect of this inarguably will be low production, inflation and high cost of living.
“Government and citizens must work together to confront the emergency through boosting agriculture and all its value chain, fight terrorism , confront insecurity, shun tokenism and create real jobs through industrialization.
Also the Chief Executive Officer of Nextar bread, Mrs. Bukola Adewunmi said though their customers have been complaining about the hike of bread from N400 to N600.
The baker however said she won’t be able to ascertain the next increase because the country’s economic meltdown had hiked the prices of raw materials while some of the raw materials are unavailable in the market and so they improvised.
She said another major challenge is multiple taxation by different government agencies doing the same work.
Adewunmi said payment of huge taxes is killing some businesses in the country.
She also complained that electricity is another problem because “we pay heavily for light and most time we don’t get the light and without light we can’t do business as diesel is very expensive.”
But to Abdulazeez Olamilekan Abdulrahman, a youth corps member serving Abuja, “this is about the cheapest and most accessible food for the common man. Government needs to act fast and nip this in the bud. We can’t effort to operate as if no one is in control. Let us afford bread crisis because it is one mayhem the nation can’t afford. Personally, I like bread, so some other downtrodden. ”