By Alieu Ceesay
Bread is a staple food in the Gambia and is commonly used in the morning and evenings during breakfast and dinner. The cost of bread is influenced by numerous factors such as the cost of cooking materials such as flour, production of bread and transportation to the local shops. This factsheet looks at the cost of bread over the years and the price of flour one of the key ingredients needed to produce bread.
Our review of the price of bread over a six-year period indicates that it first increased by D1 in 2018 from D6 to D7. This represents an increase of 16.7% from 2017 to 2018. For four consecutive years, the price of bread has been stable at D7 per loaf. However, the price of bread increased by D3 from D7 to D10 in early 2022 after the price of flour also increased earlier this year. This represents a whopping 42.9% increase from 2021 to 2022.
An article published by Foroyaa Newspaper on 31st May 2017 highlights the government’s concern that the price of bread has not come down even though the price of flour has declined. Then Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE) Dr Isatou Touray “the price of flour has been reduced and up to now  bakers have not reduced the cost of bread. This means that the impact of the reduction of flour is yet to be felt,” she said.
In June 2022, the price of bread increased after a shortage caused by a series of sit-down strikes from a number of Bakeries demanding a D3 increase on the price of bread from D7 to D10. At the moment (2022) the price of bread has increased to D10 within the Greater Banjul Area rising up to D12 and D15 in some Rural Areas.
In December 2021 the MoTIE issued a press release indicating that an “agreement has been reached with Nessim Trading Company Limited for the price of Ferry brand to be restored to D1,425 per bag, Bridge brand at D1,385 and Golden Brown maintained at D1,350 with immediate effect”. The press release has since been removed from the MoTIE website; however, it has been reproduced below. At least one baker confirmed with FactCheckGambia that they purchased a bag of flour at a reduced price of D1,445.
In an interview conducted in June 2022 with the head of the Youth Bakers Association in Bundung, Mr Amadou O Jallow, he confirmed that the price of flour has increased since then. According to Amadou, the last increment was sometime in April 2022, from a cost of D2,225 to D2,275.
Amadou believes that if the government fails to reduce the price of flour, the price of bread may increase once again. “If things don’t change the price of flour may increase, and then the price of bread would follow or the gram of bread would be reduced so that we can make a profit,” said Amadou.
Efforts to engage the MoTIE to confirm the current price of flour were left unanswered. A MoTIE Official informed our reporter that they don’t have data on the price of flour and bread. In response, the MoTIE Official referred our reporter to the Gambia Milling Corporation. Unfortunately, the Manager of the Gambia Milling Corporation also declined our request and informed our reporter that the data on the price of flour cannot be provided to the media.
Speaking to a bread seller who supplies a local shop based in Bakau by the name of Mr Madani Jallow he told our reporter that despite the increment in the price of bread, bread sellers are not making much profit out of it. In his view “the business is not lucrative to us, though we have little profit out of it in every dozen we have one loaf of bread as profit”.
This means that at a rate of D10 per loaf if 12 loaves are sold then the bread seller will make D10 out of D120 sales made. However, Madani explains that if they don’t sell all the bread they take from the bakery they still have to pay for them which becomes a loss.
Shopkeeper Mr Amadou Mballow based in Bakau told our medium that he makes very little profit from selling bread even after the increase in the price of bread. Mr Amadou Jallow explained that “if customers don’t buy items like Butter, Mayonnaise and Chocolate I find it difficult to make profit out of bread selling, I have only one dalasi out of each bread I sell”.