Food prices rise as stocks remain low

A consumer picks items at Woodley Supermarket in Nyeri on April 16, 2012. Photo/JOSEPH KANYI

Food prices have increased significantly in the last four months despite the rains and a decline in the rate of inflation.

The price of maize flour has gone up by Sh35 to retail at Sh125 a 2kg packet this month. Read (Efforts to improve lives deterred by food prices)

The same 2kg packet was retailing at between Sh90 and Sh100 in January this year.

The prices are expected to soar further.

Wheat flour, milk, bread and other basic essentials also cost more than they did at the beginning of this year.

A spot check in various Nairobi supermarkets on Thursday showed that prices of a 500g loaf of bread is retailing at Sh52.

Other retailers are selling the same for Sh65. Two months ago, it cost between Sh35 to Sh37.

Milk prices also shot up from Sh33 per half litre packet in January to the current Sh44 in supermarkets. Small retailers are selling the same at between Sh50 and Sh60.

The price of a 2kg packet of wheat flour has gone up from Sh145 to Sh151.

According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, the prices are expected to soar.

Already, the price of a 90-kilogramme bag of maize, which was retailing at Sh3,000 last month is now selling at Sh4,400 in Kisumu, a more than Sh1,000 increase.

Ministry’s warning

The current food update by the Ministry of Agriculture says that the country expects to import 300,000 bags of maize between March and September this year.

“Supplies of fresh vegetables and horticulture produce are also expected to remain low. Moreover, prices of major staples especially wheat, beans and maize are likely to remain high compared to the long-term average but not as high as it was in 2011,” noted the food security report.

The current maize stock, the report further says, is only expected to last up to August 31, this year, with a surplus of about 39,200 bags if the long rains remain normal in areas that plant the crop early.

The rains could further complicate the situation as farmers and traders fail to access markets.

Kenya’s inflation rate slowed down from 15 per cent in March to 13 percent although the prices of food, transport and energy remained high.