These days people have become so indifferent to price increases we don’t even notice them anymore. When we see different prices from those we saw yesterday we just sigh, make an adjustment to our lists and budgets and move on. The truth though is that inflation has slowed down. This has given the impression to most people that things are getting better. That’s hardly the case. What we are seeing these days is that prices are creeping upwards constantly. It may look like prices are hardly changing but the change is hard to ignore when we look at historical prices.

A case in point is the price of a loaf of bread. The price of bread has often been used as a yardstick to measure how well the economy is doing by laypeople. While that works great in most economies Zimbabwe is a country of many firsts and often throws a curveball. For example, at times there were acute bread shortages to the extent that there was no bread to talk of so no price. Thankfully in such times, the black market has always risen to the challenge.

The price of bread for the past three years has been as follows:

Bread is now actually cheaper!

So is bread cheaper or more expensive this year compared to the others? Despite its price bread is actually cheaper. Why is that you ask? Well, you need to always factor the exchange rate in all prices in Zimbabwe. That way you can easily compare historical items of prices. So the prices of bread in USD over the course of four years was as follows:

  • In 2018 a loaf of bread was around US$0.70-US$0.90 per loaf.
  • In 2019 a loaf of bread was actually around US$0.70 based on the black market rates. However there were shortages of bread due to drought so even though bread was cheap it was readily available in most shops and there were limits sometimes.
  • In 2020 the price of a loaf of bread was actually US$0.60-0.80 per loaf
  • In 2021 the price of a loaf of bread is about $0.5-0.71 per loaf

Hence the price of bread is ever so slightly cheaper than it was two years ago. Furthermore, thanks to a good rain season bread are plentiful and you can buy as much as you want. What hasn’t improved are incomes that remain stagnant. So one could argue that bread is now more “expensive” to buy.