‘Not our fault’ – vendors say as bread prices increase

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By Shikema Dey

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Bread is an essential staple in Guyanese households but recently prices have increased, giving rise to frustration among consumers.

Threads of posts on social media platforms like Facebook at the start of the new year painted a clear picture of the shock of many. And while others joked about dusting off their bread pans to return to the olden days of making homemade bread, some Guyanese used social media to altogether beg for relief.

At the Bourda Market, vendors explained that most of the local bakeries have added at least $60 on prices. Others echoed similar sentiments and reasoned that they are left with no choice but to increase the prices in order to secure a profit.

“Bread raise…flour raise, sugar raise, butter raise and those are the main ingredients in bread. The bakery raise they bread by $60 so I have to put on $60 on my price,” one female vendor explained.

She usually retails products from Bakewell, Humphrey and Fedderal – and the prices for all those products have increased.

Another vendor relayed that Bakewell sliced loaf has now increased to $400.

“The tennis roll is $360 a bag now…before, you paid $260 and this is wholesale…we still have to put on more to make a profit.”

The News Room team captured a customer enquiring about the price for a loaf of bread. And while she hesitated at first upon hearing the price, she still made her purchase.

Bakewell Bread on sale at the Stabroek Market (Photo: News Room/ January 4, 2022)

Over at the Stabroek Market, vendors complained of reduced profits. One vendor, Joy (only name given) related that other bakeries have indicated their intention to raise prices in the months to come.

“Is 20 years I selling…some raise and some ain’t raise as yet…duh coming later and we gotta put on just fuh mek back we money…it’s not our fault, we gotta put back or else is like we ain’t working for nothing,” she explained.

But it’s not just bread prices that have increased. Other commodities like cheese, milk, and eggs have increased over the past months. But nothing can be done about the pricing, according to Anil Sukdeo who is the Director-General of the Guyana’s Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission.

He explained that the country does not have price controls which are government regulations on the maximum price to be charged for goods and services, especially during periods of inflation.

What Guyana has is a “free market” which allows for competitive pricing.

“If you take bread for example, there are a number of producers around, there are a few and then you have also the local small, medium and micro businesses that also produce bread and you see they compete in price so there’s nothing that we do about the price [hike],” he said.

The government is aware of the hike in bread and other commodity prices and said that it is directly linked to the global shipping costs that have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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