Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2022. 12:37 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Controller of Supplies in the Supplies Control Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lennox Nicholson, has told LOVE FM that ADM Belize Mills, creators of La Gitana and Bebe Agua flour, have put in for an increase in the controlled prices.
Separately, bread bakers are asking for an increase in the base price for their primary product.
Both are prices controlled by the Government, but the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and those of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have produced difficulties with the production of wheat, of which both countries are major suppliers. Nicholson adds that higher costs for transportation of bulk shipments of raw materials to Belize also play a role.
The projected price increase is 10 percent; therefore, from 90 cents a pound for La Gitana and 92 cents for Bebe Agua, the prices would rise to 99 cents and $1.02, respectively.
Nicholson says his unit must crunch the numbers, comparing costs now to the conditions at the time of the last set price in 2011, figuring in not only current increases but also any unenforced adjustments downward in prices before submitting them to Cabinet for its final decision.
As for the 16-ounce packed sliced bread and similar products, the set retail price of $1.75 established in 2009 could rise as high as $2.50, owing to similar rises in materials from shortening to plastic to fuel (the wholesale price for unsliced bread would go from $1.50 to $2.25). Similarly, Nicholson says this request must be considered in light of the amount of time that has passed and any mitigation on prices in the interim years.
And Nicholson warns that as prices have not been adjusted yet, any grocer charging more than the set price must be reported to his unit for action, despite any justification they may raise for doing so and what might legally be called the “legitimate expectation” of a price increase.
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