COSTLY MEALIE MEAL… millers blamed … Millers blame increment in maize prices

Written by on April 16, 2019

Linda Soko Tembo Writes

MEALIE meal traders in Lusaka have complained that the constant changes in order prices of the commodity is negatively affecting their sales while the millers have attributed price adjustments to increased cost of maize.
The traders said that the fluctuating mealie meal prices was forcing some people to be buying and milling their own maize than acquiring expensive finished products from shops.

Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) has said mealie meal price increments were a result of upward adjustment in the price of maize and not because of maize shortages.
In an interview with the Sun, MAZ chairperson, Andrew Chintala, said the price of maize had increased from K1, 800 to K2, 600 a tonne. 
Mr Chintala said the increase in the price of maize was what led to the rise in the mealie meal price and not the assumption by the public that there was a shortage of maize in Zambia.
He said government had announced the stock position of maize was enough in Zambia, adding that about three weeks ago the country had about 700, 000 metric tonnes of maize.
“What we need every month is about 120 tonnes during this peak period for human, animal and industrial use. The real issue here is the price of maize that has moved upwards. Two months ago the millers were buying maize at K1,800 and some K1,900 a tonne and now are buying maize between K2,200 and K2,600 a tonne,” he said.
Mr Chintala said Government had intervened and directed the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to offload some maize to cushion the impact in terms of pricing, adding that once the maize price stabilized there would be a reduction in the price of mealie meal.
And in interviews with The Sun, Kalobwe Ng’andu, a trader at Lilanda Compound, said the tendency by the millers to hike mealie meal order prices almost on a weekly basis was adversely affecting sales.
Mr Ng’andu said that the people were now opting to look for alternative sources for their mealie meal than buy from them because they were either not sure about the prices or could not even afford them altogether.
He gave an example of the order price for a 25 Kg bag of Breakfast mealie meal which he said had increased from K86.00 to the current K88.00 within one week.
“It has become difficult for us to make profit because people are complaining about the prices and are even failing to buy from us. My retail price for the 25kg last week was K91.00 but I have been forced to adjust it to K94.00 this week because the order price has changed,” he said.
Mr Ng’andu said some customers were opting to buy ‘tupamela’ instead of mealie meal bags because they could not afford the prices.
“As a result of the increase of the mealie meal customers are now buying the mealie meal packed in small plastic containers known as “tu pamela” which they sold at K1.00 and K2.00 because they cannot afford to buy the 25kg bags and they are unable to make a profit,” he said.
Another trader from Matero Township said customers were not buying as much mealie meal anymore and the profit had reduced to K5.00.
“I order Pembe at K98.00 and sell it at K103.00 profit is K5.00 and African Milling order price is K 93.00 and we sell at K98.00 and this is making our business to be tough because people are not buying,” the sources said.
Meanwhile another trader in Luangwa compound Vincent Ndolicine said the business in his area was very slow because people did not have money to afford the commodity.
Mr Ndolicine appealed to government to sell maize to the millers cheaply because it seemed it was them having shortages of maize hence the dear mealie meal.

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