Kenyan retailers have denied hoarding of essential food commodities.
This denial came as food prices rose sharply across the country due to severe drought.
The Chairman of Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK), Mr Wahome Muchiri said it embarked on an engagement process with basic commodities suppliers to manage a prevailing shortage.
“As the representative umbrella body for the formal retail trade players in Kenya, we are inclined to pursue this engagement so as to provide relief for our customers,’’ Muchiri said in Nairobi.
He said some of the basic commodities currently in short supply include maize meal, sugar and dairy products.
Kenyans have complained about the shortage of food commodities and sharp increase in prices as families now eat less, pay more and watch as inflation forces them to dig deeper into their pockets.
A survey across various supermarkets in major cities and towns revealed that shoppers were being met by empty shelves and the brands they were used to were no longer in stock.
This has showed the impact of a prolonged drought, poor harvests and delayed government intervention turned into a reality.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in its latest monitoring of food prices in Eastern Africa, blamed the spike in Kenya on reduced 2016 short rains harvest which was also being compounded by delayed onset of seasonal rains.
As a result, FAO said prices of maize were at near-record levels.
Mr. Muchiri said the retailers who were the intermediaries between the suppliers and the retail customers continue to suffer due to poor and acutely erratic deliveries.
“Formal retailers avail products for sale at supplier recommended retail prices. Our members have no latitude to set prices at will and remain guided by the suppliers’ current price guides,’’ he said.
He said that the retailers would be engaging suppliers on the prevailing challenges and were optimistic that normal supplies would resume soon.
“We therefore request retail customers to co-operate and oblige when called upon to pick products under rationing treatment such as maize meal or sugar in limited numbers,’’ Muchiri noted.
Meanwhile the millers’ umbrella body, the Cereal Millers Association (CMA) has maintained that maize flour prices are unlikely to come down until July when the stock of grain available locally is expected to meet the country’s needs.
The millers pointed to a severe scarcity that is unlikely to be resolved until enough imported stocks land in the country.