Traders and buyers in Lagos state markets have lamented the soaring prices of food items as Nigeria’s food inflation increased from 19.50% recorded in May to 20.60% in June.
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the composite food index increased to 20.60% in June 2022 on a year-on-year basis; the rate of changes in average price level declined by 1.23% compared to 21.83% in June 2021.
The NBS in a report titled ‘Consumer Price Index May 2022,’ said, “The rate of changes in food prices compared to the same period last year was higher due to higher food prices volatility caused by COVID 19.”
This increase in food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, food products, potatoes, yam, and other tubers, meat, fish, oil and fat, and wine.
A trader identified as Gladys who spoke to Punch on the impact of the soaring food prices on business said, “I’ve been in this business for more than 12 years, but right now it is very discouraging. When coming to the market I always make sure I carry more than what I need because prices go up every day. You can buy this small bag of rice for N10,000, by the time you come back next month, they will tell you it is N11,500.
“This one litre of vegetable oil, we used to sell it N800 but now we’re selling for N1600. The profit we were making when we were selling N800 is even more than what we make when we well at N1600.”
Another trader, identified as Ugochi, said, “The food business had become increasingly unprofitably due to the frequent hike in the price of food items.
“It’s not our fault. We too, we go to the market, and it is the price we buy that will determine how much we sell.”
A buyer identified as Favour said, “The prices of foodstuff is really becoming something else, and the sad part is that nobody is saying anything about it. In a country the minimum wage cannot buy a bag of rice. I just don’t understand how people are surviving.”
A professor of Economics at Covenant University, Jonathan Aremu, said, “Nigeria’s food inflation was a reflection of the holistic process of food production – from harvesting to when the final product hits the marketplace.
“By the time cost of basic farming utilities like fertiliser and farming are factored into the equation, then the price of food items will invariably go up.
“It (food inflation) rise, because when you are talking of agric business, it is divided into four – the input, the production process, the processing of the food and the marketing. The price of food will not go up if the prices of all these subsectors of agric business are not affected. If the price of input is affected, definitely it is going to reflect on the final output of food. If the cost of production is becoming high in terms of what you have to do to produce, particularly the climate of the production.
Also, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Gabriel Idahosa said, “What was being dubbed as food inflation by the NBS, from critical perspective was a function of food transport inflation.
“There are two main reasons. The first is that all the food is transported from the rural and sub-urban areas where the farms are located to the cities. That transportation is mostly done by trucks that use diesel. So, the massive in the price of diesel is translating into a massive increase in the cost of moving the food.
“It is not so much an increase in the cost of producing the food at the farm, but the cost of moving the food from the farm or the sub-urban processing plants to where most of the food is consumed by non-farmers. That is why you see such a strong correlation between the urban inflation and the food inflation, because these two things basically gravitate around the urban population. The farmer does not feel any food inflation because he just harvest the food from the farm and consumes it.”