While shortages in 2008 were easily visible due to empty shelves, these days its a different story. For political and business reasons supermarkets no longer leave empty spaces within their shops. Whenever an item runs out the resulting empty space is quickly filled up by something else. Unless you are specifically looking for an item, you will not even know it is missing in that particular supermarket.

Ever since the current lockdown started March however, supermarkets have struggled to stock up their shops with some of the most basic grocery items. This has left shoppers at the mercy of Zimbabwe’s thriving black market which usually charges much more than one would normally pay in a supermarket and often demand cash instead of electronic payments.

These items are missing in most supermarkets

  • Sugar– despite the recent hike and spate of deliveries, sugar continues to be missing in most shops. A 2kg of sugar is now selling at around $162+ in Choppies according to a picture doing rounds on social media. This is much higher than the recommended price of $143
  • Cooking oil-like sugar, cooking oil as been absent in most shops more often than it is available. Most times when shops have cooking oil their shelves are full of the tiny 750ml and even 375ml bottles that no one likes to buy because they are way more expensive than the standard 2-litre bottles. Unlike sugar, there has been no concerted effort to solve this issue as there are no recommended prices.
  • Green bar-this is a new and hopefully temporary shortage. However, even on the black market, fewer people seem to be selling the standard green bar soap. During our last survey, we couldn’t find any bar soap in OK’s branches.
  • Roller Meal– ever since the government introduced subsidies roller meal has never been readily available in shops. If you want the ultra-cheap product you need someone to tip you about an impending delivery and rush to that shop where you will likely have to violate social distancing rules by standing in a crowded line with hundreds and sometimes thousands of other people. If you are rich you can always buy refined-meal for roughly $6 USD per 10kg. Often syndicates find a way to sell the subsidised roller meal on the black market for around $4 per 10kg.