By Desie Heita
Prices for cooking oil and other basic foodstuffs have shot up as inflation spirals out of control to reach the 8.4 percent mark, according to the latest Namibia Consumer Price Index from the National Planning Commission.
However, inflation is yet to make an impact on the high-purchasing segment with clothing retailers reporting healthy sales figures.
The Edcon Namibia group says its sales figures to date “are above expectations”.
Edcon Namibia is the owner of Edgars and Jet clothing stores, as well as the CNA bookstore chain.
“Our performance is above expectations. We, as Edcon Namibia, are doing really good, more than what we have expected,” said a senior executive at Edcon Namibia, Belinda Retief, without mentioning figures.
High fuel prices and high interest rates have so far pushed up the food inflation, estimated at 15 percent, especially because of higher transport costs. Namibian retailers import virtually everything from South Africa.
Inflation in the transport group went up by 10.3 percent. The groups of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel went up by 2.9 percent, according to the NCPI figures.
As a result, even the most basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil have gone up by 82 percent from N$9 to N$20 for the standard 750ml containers.
Food producers, such as Namib Mills and Namibia Dairies, say the cost of raw material has gone up by as much as 80 percent in the recent months.
“At Model Pick ‘n Pay we noticed that maize prices have increased by approximately 35 percent,” said Patrick Hashingola, the spokesperson of Ohlthaver & List Group.
He said macro-economic factors in increased global demand for food, increased prices, increased transport costs, and Namibia’s dependency on food imports have been the cause of high food prices.
The other factor is that traditional crops are increasingly being used for the production of bio-diesel and ethanol.
For the Namibian dairy milk producers, the prices of cattle fodder, their main raw material, has escalated to unprecedented levels.
The index for Food and Non Alcoholic Beverages for March 2008 increased to 164.8, a monthly increase of 2.1 percentage points, from 162.7 recorded in February 2008.
The All Items Index increased by 1.6 percentage points up from 144.6 in February 2008 to 146.2.
“This increase was due to increases recorded in the subgroups of oils and fats by 7.1 percent, fruit by 3.1 percent, milk, cheese and eggs by 1.8 percent, non-alcoholic beverages by 1.6 percent, mineral waters, soft drinks and juices by 1.5 percent,” said the National Planning Commission.