A loaf of bread in Zimbabwe would cost the average American New Yorker about US$17 (or 17.0448377581) according to our calculations. This is based on what Zimbabweans earn and how much they spend on bread. This article was inspired by a Tweet from the Namibian Actor Maria Nepembe. The tweet seems to have been deleted, probably after she discovered her “mistake”.

I was in Zim last year and bread costs like 10USD

What the tweet said.

The price for a standard white loaf of bread in Zimbabwe is not US$10. The price actual price varies from around 11 ZAR or $US0.80 to about US$1.00 for special seed loaves. In general one can expect to pay a retail price of $0.90 for a loaf of bread. But the truth is if you are an average Zimbabwean bread does feel expensive when you are buying it. There is a reason for this.

It’s all about income stupid!

There is a reason people in Zimbabwe feel like their bread is expensive. It’s all about income. If we factor in what Zimbabweans earn and what they pay for bread those feelings start to make sense. In reality, a New Yorker can expect to pay about US$2.64 for the same loaf of bread if they are buying it from their nearest bakery. This is more twice the price of bread in Zimbabwe.

The tempting conclusion here is that bread is cheaper in Zimbabwe than New York. That would be false as it is based on the flawed logic that Zimbabweans and New Yorkers earn the same. Obviously this is not the case. While bread appears to be cheaper in Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans are spending a higher proportion of their income to buy the same loaf even though it appears priced cheaper.

What they earn

According to Investopedia in New York:

  • The Median Income Household is $57 782 while
  • The Mean Income Household is $93,196 and
  • Per Capita Income is $35,761

We didn’t want to be unkind to Zimbabweans here so we opted to use the Median Household income otherwise we would end up with heart-attack inducing results if we chose the mean.Also these figures are from 2019. Meanwhile for Zimbabwe ZIMSTAT had the following statistics from 2017 (we didn’t want to fall into the exchange rate trap debate) and again we were being kind as Zimbabweans were earning more during the same period compared to what they are earning now. So according to ZIMSTAT we had the following figures:

  • US$ 2 401 before transfers and
  • US$2 712 after transfers
  • Per Capita GDP US$1 602

Buying a loaf of bread

When a Zimbabwean household buys a loaf of bread it means they are spending:


That is: 0.02949852507% or about 0.03% of their annual income on that single loaf even if it’s cheaper.

In comparison a New Yorker would be spending:


That is:0.00456889688% or about 0.005% of their annual income on each loaf that they buy even though it’s nominally expensive.

Let maths do the talking

In order for a New Yorker to feel the same way as a Zimbabwean feels when they buy a loaf of bread they would have to spend 0.02949852507% of their annual income on a single loaf of bread:

: 0.02949852507% of $57 782

That is: 17.0448377581 or US$17.04

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