WINDHOEK – Besieged Namibian consumers – already reeling from stiff increases in the price of red meat and fish since the beginning of 2014 – must brace themselves for another shock towards the end of February with an expected drastic increase in the price of poultry products.
The bad news came yesterday as many household are already struggling to keep heads above water following the the traditional no-expenses-spared holiday season and the annual costs associated with getting children back to school. Meat, fish and poultry outlets in Windhoek yesterday confirmed the impending steep rises in consumer prices due to various factors beyond their control. Meat prices, especially those of beef, have shown a steady rise since the beginning of this year and on average have gone up by some 15 percent to 20 percent for all of the most popular cuts. For Namibian fish consumers, the year also started on a bad note with prices of popular cuts of hake, kingklip and monk increasing on average between 70 and 80 percent. Virgilio de Sousa, owner of Virmar Deli Trading and leading fish outlet in Windhoek, says the prices of fish kept on increasing since the beginning of the new year. All the popular cuts are much more expensive. As an example, he noted that the price of a carton of 5kg of hake increased to N$270 this year, compared to N$165 the same time last year. “The Horse Mackerel price has stayed stable, and that is about the only good news as the fish is popular amongst low-income groups,” he said. Average prices of hake at outlets in Windhoek range from N$89 to N$99/kg, Steenbras N$140 to N$145/kg, Kabeljou between N$98 and N$110/kg and Horse Mackerel anything from N$98 to N$110/kg. Chicken prices vary between N$39.99/kg and N$42.99 for thighs and drumstciks and N$42/kg for breasts and for whole chicken.
Red meat prices vary between N$110 to N$122/kg, while a t-bone steak costs between N$110 and N$122/kg, while those prefering fillets should be prepared to fork out as much as N$135 to N$155/kg.
Fish prices of the cuts in highest demand have also shot up, in some cases with as much as 80 percent, while consumers can also expect an unpleasant surprise when the new price structure of Namibia Poultry Industries is released towards the end of February. Managing director of Namibia Poultry Industries, David Koen, warns that a stiff increase in the price of poultry is unavoidable. “We are currently analising all the market trends since the beginning of the year and will in all probability have to announce a rather stiff increase in poultry prices by the end of February.”
“The price of maize that we import from South Africa has shot up by N$800 per tonne and now costs us N$3 800 per tonne. Simultaneously, the price of oil soya cake we use as feed also underwent a steep increase. Some 75 percent of our chickens’ diet is made up by these feeds and without them we can’t survive. We have enough maize stocks as feed until the end of March, but after that only the future will tell us what to do,” he lamented.
Quinton Keys, owner of Nambi Meat Supplies, says his beef prices had to be adjusted upwards by some 18 percent, because of the scarcity of prime beef and the high prices paid by Angolans for Namibian cattle. “Angolan buyers have utilised the drought of 2013 to their utmost advantage. They have, and are still, buying Namibian cattle on the hoof at an unprecedented rate and because they are paying in US dollar, it makes financial sense to them but it puts Namibian producers under a terrible strain as they can’t compete with those prices paid by the Angolans due to the weak Rand which the Namibian dollar is directly linked to. Due to the drought, many Namibian producers have also sold up to 70 percent of their animals, and beef is getting harder to come by every day,” he says.
Manager of Hartlief Continental Meat Products, Fanie du Plessis, says Hartlief had to adjust their beef and lamb prices upwards by some 6 percent, but warned that the situation could change dramatically within a week or two if the current scarcity of meat coupled with high input prices continues. “We are monitoring the situation and if it does not improve, our high buying prices will be reflected in the prices for consumers sooner or later.” Owner of Almore Butchery in Khomasdal, Allen Bampton has regular suppliers of beef and lamb, but can barely keep up with the ever increasing prices. “I am in business to make a profit and I have big overhead costs and unfortunately I will have to pass these increases through to my customers,” he told New Era. Dirgit Eckwert of Klein Windhoek Schlachterei says they are feeling the pinch of the unforeseen scarcity of red meat and escalating input prices. “The prices of some of our beef products went up by 20 percent because of the situation,” she confirmed.
By Deon Schlechter