Zimbabwean manufacturers and supermarkets appear spooked by something. It could be the suspension of Ecocash cash-in and cashout or the general economic deterioration in the country but they appear spooked as prices of a lot of items appear to have more than doubled. One of these items is Surf washing powder.

In our surveys, Surf has consistently rivalled Brilliant and MAQ washing powder in terms of price. The average price of 1KG Surf has been consistently around the mid $20s while the price of 2KG packet has always been priced in the lower $50s. The same was true last week.

Then Bam!

1KG Surf in OK

When we entered OK supermarket the first shop we surveyed we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. We actually called one of the shop’s workers to enquire if this was sort of mistake. All was as it should be we were assured. It wasn’t a dream, the horror was real.

We quickly confirmed this price with the other three supermarkets Choppies, FoodWorld and TM (Pick N Pay). All have prices with $5 of that price.So it appears the supplier changed the price.

Shocking and uncompetitive

MAQ is imported and yet it costs half as much

The usual wisdom is that when a currency depreciates, the prices of its goods get cheaper in other currencies. I am afraid that does not apply to Zimbabwe. MAQ washing powder was the cheapest in all but one of the shops.

This is despite the fact that MAQ is being imported from South Africa, has to pay duty and freight costs before it lands on those shelves. It is also paid for in foreign currency. How can it cost half as a locally manufactured good?

This is a mystery we must solve if we are to pull out of the economic doldrums.