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Food prices stay high in Cameroon despite slight decline in headline Inflation

Food prices stay high in Cameroon despite slight decline in headline Inflation
  • Comments   -   Friday, 16 February 2024 12:49

(Business in Cameroon) - Consumer price increase for 2023 averaged 11.1% in Cameroon, marking a "slight" slowdown from the previous year's 12.9%. According to the national statistics agency, which reported the figures, this price level remains high and was mainly driven by significant price increases in vegetables, bread and cereals, fruits, as well as fish and seafood.

In its report on inflation trends in 2023 and outlook for 2024, INS observed that the most substantial rise was in vegetable prices, which surged by 22.2%. Meanwhile, for other food products, although prices went up, the increase was smaller than in the previous year. For instance, the prices of bread and cereals went up by 8.3%, down from a 16.3% increase in 2022. Fish and seafood prices rose by 9.0%, a decrease from the 12.4% hike in 2022. Oils and fats saw a 5.7% increase after a 16.4% rise in 2022, while the prices of milk, cheese, and eggs climbed by 7.8%, down from 10.7% in 2022. Similary, meat prices increased by 5.2%, a slight decrease from 6.5% in 2022, and fruit prices went up by 14.3%, compared to an 11.0% increase in 2022.

The INS cited both national and international factors to explain the hike in food prices. Locally, limited production capacity, unfavorable weather conditions leading to poor harvests and livestock losses, and security challenges, particularly in the NoSo regions, have driven prices up. Moreover, supply difficulties to major consumption centers, partial repercussions of raw material and agricultural input cost increases on consumer prices, insufficient safety stocks, and shortages of some products, including petroleum products, have contributed to the price surge.

Outside the country, the food inflation has been influenced by tensions from the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, causing supply disruptions. "As a result, the local production costs of many goods and services have risen due to increased prices of agricultural inputs and other raw materials on the international market," the report states.

However, the government has taken steps to lower prices, maintaining existing measures and introducing new ones in 2023 to combat imported inflation and boost local production, the INS highlights. "In the 2023 Finance Law, seeds, fertilizers, and agricultural products were exempted from import taxes. Also, beverages made with local ingredients benefited from a 30% excise duty reduction”. Along with subsidies and tax exemptions, the government also increased promotional sales of widely consumed products and expanded the list of products subject to regulated prices, among other measures, to preserve households' purchasing power.

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