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Consumers Struggle as Food Prices Soar in Ghana

Having a meal now is a struggle for many households as prices of food keep surging

The cost of putting food on the table is becoming increasingly difficult for many average households in Ghana as food prices continue to surge. Food inflation is now significantly higher than overall inflation. Reports from the Ghana Statistical Service indicate that food inflation reached 26.8% in April 2024, compared to an overall inflation rate of 25%. This means that the prices of food were generally 26.8% higher in April 2024 than they were in April 2023.

This sharp increase in food prices disproportionately affects low- and middle-income families, who spend a larger portion of their income on food. The General Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU) has predicted that food prices will remain high until the June harvest, raising concerns about potential food insecurity for many Ghanaians. The World Food Programme on the other hand estimates that over 1 million Ghanaians could face food insecurity in the coming months.

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Several factors contribute to this crisis. The weakening Ghanaian cedi is a major factor, making imports more expensive and impacting essential items that rely on global markets. Rising fuel prices and transportation costs further inflate the cost of transporting produce from farms to markets. Additionally, consumer preferences for certain imported or non-seasonal foods add another layer of pressure.

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A visit to any market reveals the extent of the price hikes. Three small tomatoes, barely enough for a Ghanaian-style gravy, now cost GH¢10, making them unaffordable for low-income families. Onions, a staple in many Ghanaian dishes, have seen even more dramatic price increases. A sack of onions that cost GH¢600 just a week ago now sells for over GH¢1,050 cedis—a staggering 75% increase in just seven days.

The price surge is not limited to fresh produce. Popular local fast-food joints like Papaye have increased their prices, with a normal pack of rice now costing GH¢70 from the former price of GH¢60. The cost of kenkey, a traditional dish made from maize, has also risen, with the base price now being GH¢5 or more in some areas compared to GH¢3 a year ago. A local kenkey seller remarked, “There is no longer GH¢4, GH¢4 has completed BECE a long time ago.”

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Early morning foods for Ghanaians, like ‘Koko’ (millet/corn porridge) and ‘Waakye’ (rice and beans) have also seen significant price hikes. What used to cost less than GH¢10 for a breakfast of Koko, bread, ‘kose’(fried bean fritters), and ‘brofot’ (puff-puff) now costs around GH¢ 20, with ‘Koko’ alone priced at GH¢4-5. For ‘Waakye’, a full meal with all the extras now averages GH¢50. The minimum price for ‘Waakye’ alone is GH¢7, with ‘Wele’ (cowhide) costing GH¢4-5, an egg GH¢4, meat GH¢12-14, fried fish GH¢15, and spaghetti, gari, and salad starting at GH¢3 each.

These price hikes raise the pressing question: what is the poor eating?

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