Retailers have denied being responsible for the current wave of commodity shortages that have sparked price increases in the country.
In a statement sent to newsrooms today, Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK) chairman, Mr Wahome Muchiri, the retailers say that the prices are determined by the suppliers, and they are doing their best to address the situation.
RETRAK is umbrella body for the formal retail trade players in Kenya, including supermarkets. “We are inclined to pursue this engagement so as to provide relief for our customers,” Mr Wahome said.
Some of the basic commodities currently in short supply include essential foodstuff such as maize meal, sugar and dairy products, with their prices going up by unto 40%.
“We are embarking on an engagement process with basic commodities suppliers to manage the prevailing shortage,” said Mr Muchiri.
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Mr Muchiri said that formal retail traders are not engaging in hoarding of essential food commodities. “We as the intermediary between the suppliers and the retail customers and we continue to suffer poor and acutely erratic deliveries,” he added.
According to the umbrella body for retailers, formal retailers avail products for sale at supplier recommended prices. He says members have no latitude to set prices at will and remain guided.
This comes at a time when the country is facing food crisis that has sparked historic high prices and rationing at major retailers whereby customers are required to pick limited amount of certain commodities.
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Currently, a 2kg packet of maize flour is going for between Ksh160 to Ksh200, a kilo of sugar for almost Sh200 whereas one litre of milk costs Ksh80.
Earlier this week, fingers were being pointed at the retailers for hoarding. In a comparison, the same food commodities in the bordering Uganda cost half the price in Kenya.
This is despite a promise by the government in March during the budget to bring down food prices. Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich waived tax for imported maize to curb the prices, but since then food prices have been rising.
Mr Mutahi said that the shortage is yet to be overcome, hence rationing may continue in almost all retail outlets.
“All RETRAK members are committed to providing fair access to the commodities in short supply. We therefore request retail customers to cooperate and oblige when called upon to pick products under rationing treatment such as maize meal or sugar, in limited numbers,” read the statement.