'Cut staple food prices'

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The drop in the petrol price for the past three months is more than adequate to secure a reduction in staple food prices, said KwaZulu-Natal economic expert Bonke Dumisa.

He was speaking after Tuesday afternoon's marathon meeting between food producers and distributors, and the province's MEC for Agriculture Mtholephi Mthimkhulu.

Dumisa said the supply and demand for staple food was another reason for producers to cut cost.

"Despite the cut in the fuel price it is clear that when it comes to staple foods such as bread, samp and mealie-meal, producers can cut costs."

But he conceded that when it came to processed foods price cuts were not as simple.

"It is clear that any cut in the food price must be sustainable. I believe this is more achievable when it comes to staple food as opposed to processed food items."

Dumisa challenged the government to focus on and invest in the primary sources of staple food manufacturers in the country, saying 90 percent of the wheat-based produce was in the domain of four companies.

"More entrants into this market will also help dilute production prices," he said. Mthimkhulu said he was pleased with the response he got from the producers and distributors.

There was general consensus during the meeting that food prices had risen unacceptably high, putting pressure on the poor.

Food industry representatives at the meeting indicated support for government's goals but felt it was important to balance food security with sustainbility.

The industry felt that an irresponsible reduction of food prices could have negative consequences for food security in the country.