The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe Southern Region chapter has voiced its concerns over the planned fortification of food products, saying the move will push them out of business as it will trigger price hikes and make their products uncompetitive on the market.
The latest government move through the Ministry of Health and Child Care will see food products, among them mealie meal, cooking oil, bread and sugar, mixed with some ingredients to add some nutrients.
“We are is not happy with this move. It will trigger price increases of most products, thus forcing most millers to close shop,” the association’s Southern Region chairman, Mr Thembinkosi Ndlovu.
Unimills Director, Mr Davis Muhambi said proper consultations were never made when the government came up with the idea, adding that the move will also have negative effects on the country’s balance of trade as most of the products to be used in the fortification will be imported.
The fortification of food products comes into effect on the 1st of next month.
The association also called on the Grain Marketing Board as the sole buyer of maize to come up with a reasonable pricing regime to allow millers to also break even.
Statistics indicate that the GMB buys a metric tonne of maize at US$390 from farmers and sells at US$400 to millers.
This is however to expensive compared to prices elsewhere, where the landing price of the same commodity from countries like Mexico would cost millers between US$320 and US$350, before the government banned imports after the bumper harvest.