Maize flour prices have hit a record on the back of rising cost of the commodity in recent days, setting the stage for high inflation and more pressure on households grappling with high cost of other goods.
A two-kilogramme packet of flour is retailing at a high of Sh213 for some brands, way above the wheat flour selling at between Sh197 and Sh200.
The jump is 18.3 percent above the Sh180 that the flour was fetching at the beginning of this month.
Millers have adjusted their factory prices from Sh2,250 per bale to Sh2,340 in line with the rising cost of maize, which forms 80 percent of the total cost of production.
“There has been no surplus in the market in the last two weeks and we have seen prices of maize rise from Sh5,000 to Sh6,000 [per 90-kilogramme bag] currently,” said Ken Nyaga, chief executive of United Grain Millers.
The high cost of flour and other food items such as cooking oil and energy will pile more pressure on inflation, which is likely to continue rising.
Inflation hit 9.6 percent in October from 9.2 percent a month earlier, driven by an increase in the cost of food, marking a 65-month high.
This is the first time in Kenya that the wholesale price of maize has crossed the Sh6,000 mark at a time farmers are harvesting the main crop for the year.
The rising cost has seen the government open a window for importation of 10 million bags of maize to stem the rising cost of flour.
Millers argue that most maize has been sold and farmers are remaining with a handful of stocks, indicating the current crop will be mopped out of the market by the end of January.
“We are projecting that there will be no local maize in January and measures have to be put in place to ensure there is sufficient stock to tame the rise in flour prices,” Mr Nyaga said.
Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said that farmers are hoarding at least 20 million bags of maize in anticipation of good prices in the coming days.
However, a section of farmers has gone into panic selling following reports of importation that MPs have faulted. The lawmakers have urged the government to drop the plans as farmers are harvesting the main crop for this season.
Millers have, however, welcomed the imports, saying it will play a key role in addressing the high prices on the market.