Local manufacturers feel the heat …as retailers prefer imports over locally produced goods

Staff Reporter

Local manufacturers are crying foul over the slow uptake of locally manufactured basic commodities.

Economic analyst, Abednigo Matsika revealed that the effects of Statutory Instrument 98 of 2022, which suspended custom duties on the importation of basic commodities following the high cost of locally manufactured goods, is presenting the much needed competition for the local manufacturers.  This served to remove the monopoly they were enjoying which led to the unjustified price hikes.

“Look at Trade Kings, their Boom Washing Powder’s monthly sales have significantly dropped by 21%, from selling 1650 tonnes to 1250 tonnes since the pronouncement.

“Similarly, Probrands is suffering the same effects on their milk creamer powder. In March, it sold 15 tonnes of milk powder and in June of the same year, the sales dropped to 4 tonnes, which is a 73% decline in sales. Equally, Willowton has not been spared as its Sona soap product has dropped 15% from a monthly average of 900 tonnes to 765 tonnes in the month of June 2022,” said Matsika.

In an  interview,Mutsa Mwarazhi, a Harare based consumer commended the Government for removing duty on the import of basic commodities.

“My rice of choice is our locally produced Probrands rice but I’m forced to buy parboiled rice from South Africa because it’s cheaper. I also prefer to use locally produced Zimgold cooking oil over the imported cooking oil. The reason I don’t buy locally produced products is that they are more expensive than the imports.

“If the manufacturing companies can consider pricing their products to manageable prices, most people will buy locally manufactured goods; However the manufacturers are falling prey to their   profiteering and cannot hold both the consumers and government to ransom” said Mwarazhi.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing companies have appealed to Government to protect the local industries by considering the removal of SI98 of 2022 as it is negating the benefits that have been made by local industry in the supply of basic commodities.

In May 2022, Government made a pronouncement for the introduction of measures aimed at ensuring access to affordable basic commodities due to substantial increases in prices of locally manufactured goods. While Government has been introducing protectionist policies to boost capacity utilisation of local industry, the later has been abusing same by unjustifiably increasing their prices. The abuse forced Government to put in place SI98 to protect consumers from extortionate prices.