City bakeries closed for lowering bread weights
A city wide crackdown on rule breaking bakeries benefiting from government subsidized flour has shut the door on 120 bakeries in the last month.
Most of these bakeries are located in Addis Ketema, Gullele, Arada and Kirkos Sub Cities. The Addis Ababa Trade Bureau says the closed bakeries purchased wheat flour for 796 birr per quintal and resold the flour for up to 1,800 birr. Then they turn around and make bread with less flour so that customers who think they are paying for 100 grams of bread for 1.30 birr actually were buying as little as 60 grams of bread for that price.
Bread pieces that were 200 and 300 grams were also intentionally reduced up to 80 grams during the baking process.
Currently over 1,500 bakeries get flour subsidies in Addis Ababa thorough 44 wheat flour companies working on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
Kashaun Abera, Trade Inspection Head at the Bureau told Capital that lowering weight is unacceptable.
“Bread is one of the basic consumer needs for our meals. The government understands this and has been subsidizing wheat to help the consumer. Now some bakeries are lowering bread weights and selling the extra flour instead of using it for bread. This is completely wrong and we will close these bakeries down.”
Bakeries owners argue that the government should revise the price of bread instead of rushing to shut down the bakeries.
An anonymous bakery owner said “I just need to tell you that we are being pressured by costs since bakeries are in the middle of the value chain. All the costs are going up, from raw materials we use, spare parts and everything they are going up.”
“This is because we have not been able to cope with the current economic reality. You cannot just raise your price to make a profit because consumers are not ready to accept that. If you produce at the best quality, you cannot make any profit. You have to lower the quality, that is, if at all, your consumers will accept the product,” the owner said.
Bakeries are getting 120,929 quintals of flour from the 44 wheat flour factories every month.
The government sells the wheat to flour companies at 500 birr per quintal and flour companies sell the flour to the bakeries at 796.25 birr per quintal.