Kenya is staring at potential food shortages with an acute deficit of maize flour already being experienced in supermarkets.
A spot check in different retail outlets in Nairobi shows some supermarkets have run out of stocks while others are selling just one brand, meaning prices could rebound to previous highs as millers say they have no maize.
One of the Naivas supermarkets along Ronald Ngala Street had only stocked the premium brand of Hostess, which sells at Sh184 while all the relatively popular cheap brands were missing.
Tuskys Supermarket outlet along the same street had less than 50 packets of Kifaru brand retailing at Sh132 per two kilogramme.
Nick Hutchinson, chairman of the Cereal Millers Association, told the Business Daily the millers might be forced to stop production due to insufficient maize stocks.
“There are no stocks to mill at all and our hopes are on the maize from Mexico that is expected next month,” he said.
Kenya is importing maize from Mexico to curb the runaway prices that hit a record high of Sh153 for a 2kg packet, before declining to an average of Sh130 last month after the government released cheap maize from the Strategic Food Reserve.
The shipment is expected to take 45 days and the earliest it can get to the country is next month according to millers.
The ministry of Agriculture released 750,000 bags to millers at a cost of Sh3,000 per 90kg bag against the market price of Sh4,500.
CMA members were allocated 450,000 bags and they have so far purchased 400,000 bags. Smaller processers purchased the balance of the allocation.
Food component is a key driver of inflation and the increasing cost of these items pushed the cost of living to a 57-month high.
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows inflation increased from 10.28 per cent in March to 11.48 per cent in April — the highest rate since May 2012.
This was lifted by higher food prices that have been on the rise since last year. Prices of sugar and milk have also increased significantly.
The millers will issue a statement on the current situation of maize in the country later on Friday.
Credit: Business Daily