By G9ija

Bakers in the country Thursday announced possibility of increasing the prices of bread on account of rising costs of sugar, flour, fuel and electricity.

The declaration came the same day the Nigerian govt banned forex on all food and fertiliser imports into Nigeria.

The Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) and the Association of Masters Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) warned of the imminent price increase at a press conference that held in Lagos.

Tosan Jemide, president of PBAN, said activities in the baking business had become dormant by reason of consistent rises in the prices of baking ingredients.

He stated that the prices of sugar, flour and other ingredients had soared over the last six months without a relative rise in the prices of bread by member bakeries.

“We have been busy helping them remain profitable while our businesses suffer, because we are more in tune with the purchasing power of the consumer and are deeply concerned about food security.

“PBAN and AMBCN shall no longer take seat and watch such blatant increases in prices going forward. We shall react with equal price increases or stiff resistance,” he said.

He enjoined government to intervene in rescuing the $621 million industry from collapse by supporting millers in accessing forex without difficulty.

On Thursday, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria said manufacturers spend around 38% of their operating costs on providing alternative electricity alone as grid electricity becomes increasingly unreliable around the country.

Bakers said the wheat development programme initiated in 2012 was yet to yield results despite 15% development levy.

“Data has shown that about 70% of the flour consumed in the industry goes into bread production.

“It is, therefore, expedient for the Federal Government of Nigeria to do everything within its means to ensure that the industry does not die as we can’t breathe any longer.”

The bakers’ unions recommended government should review its foreign exchange policy by offering importers liberty to access forex as local wheat production could not meet increasing flour demand.

Africa’s top economy spent more than N400 billion importing wheat in 2019.

“Although we have been experiencing difficulties for a while, between March and August 2020 the price of flour, which is our major ingredient, has increased from N10, 500 per 50kg bag to N13, 500 per bag.

“Sugar increased from N13, 500 per bag to as high as N29, 000 and then to N19, 000 per bag in the corresponding period. Margarine, from N5, 800 is almost N11, 000. A 25 litre can of vegetable oil, which was about N13, 000 thousand now sells for N16, 000 while Milk which was hitherto N29, 000, now goes for N52, 000.

“Preservative (Calcium Propionate) increased from N25, 000 to N34, 500, with the possibility of further price increases not ruled out,” bakers said.