Monday, 16 June 2014

No longer the land of milk (or honey)

((First appeared in Consumer News Namibia Magazine October 2013)

Recently the Economist newspaper also weighed in on the issue of fluctuating milk prices. “Milk prices on Namibian supermarket shelves are baffling local consumers. It used to be that there was a minor price difference between imported South African dairy products and the local brands, but this was usually in the order of one dollar or less.”
This issue has also been covered by the Namibia Consumer Protection Group (NCPG) when they proposed the 2013 Consumer Day be named “Namibia Milk Price Day”. The idea was for any Namibian consumer to buy a litre of milk and then inform the NCPG of the type of milk, the price they paid and where they bought their litre of milk.

The Consumer Action explained

This year 2013, the Namibia Consumer Protection Group (a lobby group and supporter of consumer activism) is asking people around the country to buy on 15 March 2013 a litre milk everywhere in Namibia, and then please post on the  website the price they paid and the store where they bought it. Perhaps we can we create awareness why we need a Consumer Protection Law and we can all see to what in-fluxed prices and irregularities exist in our own land of the brave. The idea is that every time you buy a litre of milk, you visit the webpage http://www.namibiamilk.com/ and upload your details.
The page will continue to operate for the next year to allow us to correlate data on what consumer throughout the country are being charged for this basic necessity.
Remember it iss easy, "You can report the price of milk online. Simply go to www.namibiamilk.com and click on the 'submit a report' button. Alternatively find us on Facebook by searching for Namibia Milk Price Day".
It is important that consumer in Namibia should start demanding their rights. The way it is going at present, we are simply made promises and none of them are being kept.

Update

Since the start of the action, numerous consumers have reported the price they paid for milk and it was confusing to see how prices can fluctuate for the same product in different stores in one location such as Windhoek.

What was even more surprising (and confusing) was how prices could differ IN THE SAME STORE on different days. The prices in a period of two weeks went up and down from a low of N$ 12.99 to a high of N$ 15.70. That’s right, the price went up, then down, then up again without any understandable reason.
The consumer is being ripped off as most of us buy our milk on a daily basis and do not regularly check the price. How often have you not rushed into a shop to buy a milk and bread and paid without checking the price?

Infant Industry Protection

Now add to this the protection given to the dairy industry to protect them from milk imports from other countries, especially South Africa. This allows the local industry to increase their prices to “ensure their profitability” and prevents the consumer form choosing a product that suits their pocket.

As Namibians we can support the infant protection because it ensures there are more jobs for Namibians, but are we going to allow ourselves to be ripped off because our hearts are in the right place?

The way forward

The Government of the Republic of Namibia is urged to look into the matter and explain to the consumers how this sector is being regulated to ensure that the “infant protection” status is not allowing for excessive profits, and why the price of milk is like a roller coaster within most retail outlets.


My opinion is that most of us are being abused with the pricing because this is a necessity we cannot do without.

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