Nigerian bakers suspend production over high costs

ABUJA — Nigerian bread makers suspended production from Wednesday to protest against soaring prices of ingredients such as flour and sugar, bakers associations said.

Prices of staples such as bread, maize and rice have risen since the start of this year, helping to propel inflation to its highest in more than five years in June.

The Master Bakers Association of Nigeria (MBAN) and smaller Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN), which together have 700,000 members, want the government to stop charging a 15% levy on imported wheat, and to be issued licenses to import sugar.

PBAN also wants its members to gain access to low interest loans from the central bank available to some small- and medium-sized businesses, its president Emmanuel Onuorah said.

MBAN said its members had stopped work on Wednesday for a week while PBAN will suspend production from Thursday for four days.

“We had no option than to shut down for those days to draw government attention to our plight,” Jude Okafor, the MBAN national secretary told Reuters.

The impact was not yet immediately apparent on the streets of Lagos on Wednesday, where shops were still stocked with fresh bread.

Mr. Onuorah from PBAN said bakeries were making losses, which was no longer sustainable.

Global wheat prices have risen since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, affecting countries like Nigeria that import most of their wheat. Russia and Ukraine are major wheat exporters.

Mr. Onuorah said the price of a 50 kg bag of flour had risen 7.4% since June and by more than half this year to 29,000 naira ($70).

The price of diesel has also soared nearly threefold this year.

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment spokesman did not respond to calls and messages for a comment. — Reuters