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CCZ concerned with the state of affairs in the baking industry
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
January 31, 2007

It has been almost two months since the gazetting of the official price of bread and the bakers through the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) are lobbying for a review of the price to at least $1 500.00 for a standard loaf. BAZ has proffered many reasons in justification of the increases, with inflation chief among them, saying that it (inflation) had caused unprecedented increases in the cost of production inputs. CCZ is however greatly concerned with the state of affairs in the baking industry.

Based on the numerous concerns raised by consumers on the standard and quality of bread, CCZ felt it important to launch an investigation to get to the bottom of these complaints. To this end, a joint operation was launched by CCZ together with the Trade Measures Department in the Ministry of Industry and International Trade, and startling results of under-weight bread were found. All major players in the baking industry were visited and their bread sampled for compliance in terms of the prescribed weight (700g). While the law gives a tolerance of +10% (+70g) and -5% (-35g) for each loaf, the average loaf, the average weight of a loaf found during this exercise was 430g. These results as shown in tables and graph attached show that bakers are all in contravention of provisions in Trade Measures (Sale of Articles) Regulations relating to the weight of bread, thus not playing fair with the consumer.

It is unfortunate that, while the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe is seeking approval for a price adjustment, the members are already marketing and selling overpriced loaves by illegally reducing the weight thereof. This scenario hardly augurs well in BAZís quest for a price adjustment. As the Consumer Council, we take this opportunity to caution all bakers and retailers against marketing and selling underweight bread, as they are liable to prosecution. It was also noted that the quality and the standard of the standard loaf has gone down although the Standards Association of Zimbabwe would gladly certify bakers who meet the SAZ standards of bread. Bakers who were found in possession of underweight bread during this exercise will face prosecution through the Trade Measures Department.

CCZ has been advised that the Trade Measures Department recently acquired a very sophisticated "Quality Control System" which accurately determines the "net content" of any pre-packaged product and automatically verifies whether the declared or proscribed quantity is correct, within specified tolerances.

CCZ and the Trade Measures Department will in the coming weeks continue with this exercise to check on compliance and will not support further increases to the price of bread until bakers meet the required standards.

CCZ continues to urge consumers to report any abuse of their rights and to be proactive always and not to compromise a fairdeal on the marketplace. It is the right of consumers to be heard and to get redress.

Consumer organisations like CCZ have an obligation to ensure that consumers are protected and get redress. A toll free consumer hotline, has been installed for the benefit of consumers who wish to contact CCZ and it is free of charge. A website is also in place to bridge the gap between information and consumers. All this has been done to equip and empower consumers in seeking a fairdeal on the marketplace. Suggestions and opinions on the content of the website are still welcome so as to make the site ideal for consumers in the country.

Visit the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe fact sheet

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