The Supermarkets Association (SATT) is urging the government and distributors of flour and wheat products to find alternative suppliers as another price hike could be on the horizon.
SATT Director Rajiv Diptee said that as Trinidad and Tobago is an import-dependent nation, local millers should now work harder to ensure continuity of production and reliable supplies.
His concern was heightened by India’s ban on wheat exports due to a heatwave that reduced production and pushed domestic prices to a record high.
Already, wheat prices have increased several times over the past two years, due to the covid19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which have disrupted demand and supply as well as freight and shipping costs. .
“All stakeholders have made adjustments to absorb price increases wherever possible. As continued supply shocks continue to be alien to a system already bewildered by covid19, we must continue to examine national and intra-regional options to explore food security.
Diptee said India’s wheat export ban followed an alarming trend of halting exports to focus on domestic consumption, where countries were expecting shortages.
“It also creates uncertainty for global supply, as this model of export lock-in creates inflationary pressures on countries that are highly dependent on external sources when it comes to commodities like grains.”
India has been considered a major wheat producer and the export ban will shake up the global market, Diptee explained.
He added that there were other markets like China, the United States and South America, but Indian grain was attractive for its price.
“Given that Russia and Ukraine are two of the largest wheat exporters in the world, we now have a situation that will turn to a now more limited number of wheat exporting countries that will experience higher prices as a result.”
When asked what other markets TT could look to, he replied: “The major players have withdrawn from the global market either because of the war or, in the case of India, to ensure their own Food Safety.
“Where markets experience these severe distortions, production will need to be ramped up in producing countries, which will take time for production runs. This results in more limited supplies, with demand not falling, so prices go up.”
Diptee urged the nation to recognize that changes to diets can reap economic and health benefits at a time when traditional staples face many challenges.