National Flour Mills faces government resistance to potential price hike

by Eric Schroeder
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NFM is considering increasing its flour prices.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO — The rising cost of wheat has National Flour Mills (NFM) Ltd. considering whether to increase its flour prices, something the Trinidad and Tobago-based company hasn’t done in nearly a decade. But the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago may have different ideas.

“The minister stated that over the years the government, largely through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has been diligent at maintaining a facilitative working relationship with NFM as evident by the numerous dialogues and support provided on matters,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry noted in a statement issued Nov. 29. “As such, the public dissemination of the likelihood of an increase in flour prices without any prior discussion is wholly unacceptable.”

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said that while NFM experienced a 23% decline in profits during the nine months ended Sept. 30 the decline primarily reflected a drop in revenues from animal feeds. Additionally, the agency said the profitability of NFM was adversely affected by expenses incurred due to the upgrade of its plant and equipment to accommodate increased production and achieving an internationally recognized safe quality food certification.

“NFM, notwithstanding has still been able to meet its financial obligations and maintain a satisfactory cash flow position,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said. “In this regard, the minister has mandated that the company place specific emphasis on penetrating foreign markets, new product development, reviewing hedging policies, improving cost structure by revising contractual arrangements and process efficiencies in all of its business segments.”

The Ministry of Trade and Industry noted that while it is mindful of NFM’s responsibility to all its shareholders to be profitable, it cannot support price adjustments at this time “given the widespread implications that will undoubtedly arise.”

Founded in 1972, NFM is a leader in flour milling, rice packaging, feed milling and dry mix operations throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The company’s product range includes all-purpose flour, baker’s flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, self-rising flour, wheat germ, wheat bran, wheat cereal, split peas powder, baking powder, custard powder and icing sugar.
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