Doubles

The basic elements: Bara, cucumber, channa and seasoning/pepper.

As we all know, the reason behind the price increase of flour by NFM and the price increase of flour products by Kiss Baking Company, doubles vendors, bake ‘n’ shark vendors and pie and cake vendors, etc, is money.

However, the “real reason” is to make “a pound and a crown”, or exorbitant profits, on the heads of unfortunate consumers who have no alternative.

Long ago we would see vendors competing and trying to undersell each other. Nowadays they just write the given price on a cardboard cut-out, and sit with a smirk on their faces, as if to say, “Buy at this price, you won’t get it cheaper anywhere else.”

As a past market vendor, I welcomed competition since $2 profit per pound on 200 pounds of sales is $400; while $5 profit on 30 pounds of sales is only $150. In economics, this concept is termed the elasticity of demand and supply, which can be manipulated to the advantage of wise entrepreneurs.

Now, back to the flour issue. My wife and children and I all make bread, doubles, pies, pholourie and bake at home. However, ours are much tastier than those of street vendors.

NFM’s quote on the retail price of a two-kilogramme packet of Ibis flour is $12.50, which will go up by 17 per cent to $14.63 in 2022. This two-kilogramme packet can yield 40 hops, 50 doubles, 40 pies, 100 pholourie or 25 bakes, give or take a couple; experiment for yourself and see.

I’ve used this small packet for simplification of figures. However, at wholesale prices, costs can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent.

In this small scale, the prices of baking powder, yeast, fat, channa and seasonings are minimal, and the frying oil is reused. We don’t throw away a pot of oil after frying a batch of bake, bara or pholourie, do we?

Additionally, the prices of these ingredients are not going up on January 3, are they? Now, you check the selling prices, and calculate the profits that can be made on this small scale.

I have no problem with business entities earning profits for their hard work, innovations, commodities and services provided. However, I do have a problem with unscrupulous persons and organisations monopolising and manipulating the market, and attaining huge profits on the pretence of “feeding the nation”.

We all hear farmers and agricultural societies screaming that they all provide food for our nation. However, we don’t hear them shouting that they charge $50 a pound for goat meat, $35 a pound for beef, $100 for two medium-sized chickens, $25 a pound for medium tomatoes, $3 for one hot pepper or $7 for one rough-skin lemon.

Remember, these are local products; no freight charges nor import duties are incurred. My parents were cattle farmers, so I know what I am speaking about. Or do the modern farmers now pay freight and taxes on the grass and water consumed by cows, goats and sheep?

Finally, from Monday, if the population only purchased the cheaper brands of flour and boycotted the more expensive brands, as well as the flour products with inflated prices, I guarantee the resulting glut of these products will cause businesses to lower their prices by February.

This must be a collective effort by our nation’s consumers but, sadly, because of divisiveness and prejudice among citizens, I do not see this happening and, unfortunately, profit margins will only increase.

Indar Dhaniram

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