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The Price of Packed Bread Is Going Up

The price of the sixteen-ounce packed sliced bread will see a significant increase as early as next week. In fact, all bread products will see a dramatic price increase soon. Love News is reliably informed that bakers from across the country have united in asking the government to increase the cap on slice bread from the retail price of one dollar and seventy-five cents to two dollars and fifty cents. Bakers say that for the past two years, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been operating at a loss. Materials such as shortening, plastic, and fuel have dramatically increased their cost of production. The request to have the price increase will go to Cabinet which will then approve or deny the increase. It is likely, however, that the request will be approved. Controller of Supplies for the Supplies and Control Unit Lennox Nicholson spoke to Love News.

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit: “Some of the leading bakers of the country have formally made a submission to the Government of Belize requesting that the control price for 16 oz bread be adjusted upward. Okay? Now under the regulations, the only variety of bread that is controlled is, in fact, the 16 oz loaf. So there has been a formal request made from these bakers who have come together and have requested that the control price be adjusted and what we’re looking at, as per their request, is how the control price, wholesale, for that product to go from $1.50 to $2.25 which would more or less end up putting the retail price for that product at about $2.50. Now my view, this is the submission that has been made. It is the request that has been made so that has triggered the Supplies Control Unit now to start conduct, carrying out its process of due diligence to verify certain details. Alright? To put together a Cabinet paper for consideration, hopefully, at the next sitting so that we can look into this particular matter and have the Cabinet be apprised of the situation and make a decision on how we move forward as regards the control price. So as you know, one of the main components that feed into the price of producing bread is flour but there are other elements as well. So you’re looking at things such as shortening, the cost of packaging materials, the relative cost of LPG. Alright so you’re talking about fuel that is used to distribute the product countrywide to retail outlets. So all of these factors feed into that final production cost for the bakers and these are the elements that have to be considered when establishing or when considering any adjustment to the control price. So it is that process that has been triggered by our unit and that is what we’re engaged with at this time.”

Now, any news of any price increase is bad and unwelcomed news for consumers, but one baker tells us that for the past two years, revenue has shrunken, limiting their ability to produce. Bakers believe that it’s due time that the price for a pack of sliced bread is increased. While bakers are suggesting an increase to two dollars and fifty cents, the decision is ultimately left to Cabinet.

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit: “I think it is safe to say that there have been increases. The question is, to what extent? To what degree and to what degree then that would have on the final production costs for the product? You see? So yes the bakers have made certain representation to the Government in terms of the prices of these cost elements but as I indicated to you, we have to actually go into the administrative records and do some verification and this is the information that will be put together when we make that submission to the Cabinet for their consideration.” 

Reporter: Okay so as it stands now, the regular packed sliced bread, the 16 oz sliced bread, that is capped at $1.75?

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit:  “That is correct, as of right now there has been no change to the control price of that product. Likewise, there have been no change to the control price for flour, as we speak.”

Reporter: So what if I told you that I went to a Chinese grocer and she charged me $2 for the sliced packed bread?

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit: “For the 16 oz?”

Reporter: For the regular “pack bread.”

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit: “For the one that is subject to price control?”

Reporter: yes

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit: Okay then what you would need to do after we conclude this interview, I’d like you to tell me where that establishment is so that we can take certain measures.”

Reporter: But is it anticipated that some grocery stores would be increasing their price for sliced bread prematurely, expecting that this increase would happen eventually?

Lennox Nicholson, Controller of Supplies, Supplies and Control Unit: “That, there’s a good chance that some person would engage, however, there’s no justification for that. If their purchase costs for the product has not changed as yet. Then they have no justification or no good reason to take up the retail price at this stage. So that is something that we will have to keep an eye on and ensure that we try to maintain some increased presence in the market to look into these matters.”

The last increase in bread products was in 2009.