The National Leader, Progressive Bakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN), Prince Jacob Adejorin, says his group is not contemplating a 30 per cent increase in the prices of bread, biscuits and other items.
He was reacting to the directive of the another group of bakers — Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) — to its members nationwide to make such increase due to the economic downturn in the country.
The directive was part of the resolution reached at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of AMBCN, held in Abuja on Wednesday.
The AMBCN explained that the adjustment of price was as a result of the sudden increase in the cost of production as well as prices of sugar, butter, yeast and flour.
AMBCN called on the federal government to take immediate steps towards reducing the high price of flour, as it was killing their businesses.
Reacting, Adejorin told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday that his own association had no immediate plan to add to the current cost of bread.
He, however, admitted that there was a challenge of increase in the price of flour and other baking ingredients.
Adejorin, the former Chairman, AMBCN, Lagos Chapter, said his own association, PBAN, broke out of AMBCN due to some internal irregularities.
“Notwithstanding the increase in cost of baking items, we have no plans to increase the cost of bread and other baking items from what it is currently.
“The cost of flour has increased drastically, that is the problem we have right now in the baking industry and that is what we are objecting to,” he said.
Adejorin told NAN that there were some other reasons not indicated why the AMBCN opted for the increase which his association did not agree with.
He spoke as some Lagos residents expressed displeasure at the proposed increase by AMBCN members, urging the government to intervene.
Mrs Vera Adikwu, a housewife, said that they were still contending with the increase in the price of a good loaf of bread from N300 two years ago to N450 presently.
She said that Nigerians could no longer bear the brunt of the increase in various food items.
Adiukwu urged the government to address the concerns and strife between the bakers and the millers to reduce the burdens of the masses.
“As it is, everything has become expensive, and if we say we want to start to bake at home ourselves, we would still face the same problems the bakers who do it as business are currently facing.
“Government should please address the issues they are having so that ordinary bread can be affordable for ordinary people,” she said.
Also, Mrs Funmilayo Makinde, a supermarket owner, urged government to stabilise the rate of foreign exchange and ensure ease of access to it, to help small business owners purchase raw materials that aid production.
A resident of Ipaja area of Lagos, Mr Solomon Omosuri, told NAN that a particular brand of bread he bought had already gone up by N50 since last week, selling for N550 and N650, against N500 and N600 earlier.
In some other areas visited, the prices still remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, Mr Jude Okafor, National Secretary, AMBCN, said that there had been increase in price of flour and other baking ingredients since the lockdown.
Okafor told NAN that currently a bag of flour soared N16,000 from N11, 500, while a carton of butter rose from N9, 000 to N11, 500.
Similarly, a bag of sugar cost N19,000 from N17, 000 while a carton of yeast rose to N14, 500 from N13, 000.
Okafor urged government’s intervention over the actions of the flour millers, whom he said were taking advantage of the current foreign exchange irregularities to increase cost of flour.
He noted that majority of the bakers who operated as Small and Medium Enterprises had become heavily indebted while about 30 per cent of them had shut down.
“Our government need to call the flour milling people to order who have taken advantage of the dollar increase to increase illegally the cost of flour even when there is no need for that.
“When Dollar was N400, it was sold for less than N13, 000, and now they have increased to N16, 000 plus.
“Several bakers close down on daily basis and majority of them now heavily indebted.
“These small scale bakers bear the brunt more and we see multinationals trying to takeover the industry from Nigerians because of the advantage of access to foreign exchange to them and corporate machines that does not create jobs for anybody.
“We want a price control board to tackle the actions of the millers as there is no proportional relationship with the increase in dollar and the increase in price of flour,” he said.