Higher prices or less food as flour increases

An attendant prepares a chicken roti for a customer at Patraj Roti Shop in San Juan on Wednesday. Photo by Sureash Cholai
An attendant prepares a chicken roti for a customer at Patraj Roti Shop in San Juan on Wednesday. Photo by Sureash Cholai


Flour consumers will now be faced with two choices at their favourite food places – either dig deeper in their wallets, or pay the same prices and get less food.

This comes as announcements by National Flour Mills (NFM) and Nutrimix were released on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, about an increase in wholesale and retail prices.

NFM said on Tuesday the price of flour would be increased by 33 per cent wholesale and 28 per cent retail, while Nutrimix announced in a media release on Wednesday that shoppers will see a hike of ten-33 per cent.

Newsday spoke with customers and small-business owners about how this will affect them. One woman, who only gave her name as Naomi, was close to tears. She said the price hike has left her feeling unsure of where her and her family's next meal is coming from.

Customers wait for their doubles and pies from Yellow Van Doubles near the Aranguez Savannah on Wednesday. Photo by Sureash Cholai

"This will be a hardship on my family. These new prices will affect what I want to make for them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was my easy way out since flour is filling and it's what I can afford."

She said she wished the government did better to keep her and her family fed.

Small-business owners echoed the same sentiments, some weighing the possibility of closing their doors.

Owner of Lana's Breakfast Shop, Freeport, Sabita Ramadhar, said she doesn't know how she'll manage, but knows she isn't increasing her prices just yet. She said her monthly expenditure includes $20,000 in ingredients, $350 for a keg of oil, and an extra $5,500 in rent and electricity bills.

"I have no choice but to deal with it, and I don't want to increase my prices seeing that I did so last year after the first increase. I don't want to burden my customers, especially with the hard times we are in."

She was referring to the announcement made by NFM and Nutrimix last December which took effect on January 3.

Ramadhar said she charges $13 for one slice of sada roti and a side, but may have to charge $2 more just to sustain her business and life. She said when she opened her doors on Wednesday morning, she was greeted with concerns of a price increase but knows her customers won't complain.

"They know that prices are going up, so I don't think they'll complain. Some people might spend less or some might stop spending completely and that's a loss for me but I understand."

The manager of Ali's Roti Shop, San Juan, said to keep their business running, either prices must increase or staff will be reduced. She said they have kept the same prices for almost seven years and can't see them remaining unchanged.

She said she also has to pay about $20,000 for ingredients as well.

"Since I'm buying retail, I know that $20,000 will go up, I just don't know by how much."

Although she wore her mask, the worry in her eyes stuck out the most.

A representative of Patraj's Roti Shop, San Juan, Antim Panchoo, said: "The flour price increase was always expected especially with the war between Ukraine and Russia affecting wheat supplies, but I feel as though this announcement came like a thief in the night."

Antim Panchoo, manager of Patraj Roti Shop in San Juan speaks to Newsday about the flour price increase. Photo by Sureash Cholai

He said given that it's a price increase, he expected the public would be given more time to adjust.

"What happened last night was distasteful, especially for businesses and consumers. And a hint to the increase wasn't enough. Announcing it like this felt like being strangled."

Panchoo said the business is still recovering from the covid19 lockdowns which left them without a steady income for almost two years.

To deal with the increase, he said, management would have to take measures to keep the business up and running, but he isn't sure what will be done yet.

"What we do know is that we're trying not to decrease the staff and trying to see how we can manage for the next month."

He said in order to work around this, they would have to start offering smaller portions to maintain the same prices.


"Higher prices or less food as flour increases"

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