Why Kenyans are Buying Fewer Essential Commodities

Inflation remains significantly high in the economy, hitting 9.6% in October 2022, primarily driven by prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Lynnet Okumu
Kenya's walking in the streets of Nairobi

Shopping across the country has become an antagonizing task, with the cost of essential commodities skyrocketing beyond the reach of the average Kenyan.

This results from inflation’s impact on household budgets amid market disruptions and a prolonged drought. These essential goods include cooking oils, flour, and personal hygiene products.

A spot-check by Khusoko at different retail supermarkets and open-air markets shows a slight variation in the prices of these commodities.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Inflation remains significantly high in the economy, hitting 9.6% in October 2022, primarily driven by prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The cost of wheat flour, sugar, cooking oil (salad), and maize flour rose by 40.80%, 36.30%, 33.60%, and 33.50%, respectively.

Monthly, consumer prices were up 0.9% in October, the same pace as in the previous month.

“The inflation outlook remains unfavourable despite the bulk of these price pressures being supply-driven and likely transitory once the underlying drivers are resolved. In the near term, headline inflation is expected to remain above the statutory upper band target range of 7.5 per cent, according to the NCBA Inflation Reaction in October 2022.


Commodity: A 2Kg Packet of Sugar Now Costs 350 Shillings in Nairobi

Currently, a 50 kg bag of Kabras Sugar brand retails for an average of 7000 shillings in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kakamega counties. The exact quantity of Kabras sugar retailed for up to 8000 shillings in Kisumu County.

Cooking oil

A kilo and a 2-kilogram packet retailed at an average of 170 and 350 shillings across the country.

A litre of Fresh Fri cooking oil now retails for 357 shillings across major shopping outlets, down from an average of 440 shillings.

Meanwhile, a three-litre of the same commodity costs 770 shillings, while five litres have dropped by over 400 shillings to sell at 1,199 shillings.

The retail price of 500 grams of cooking fat surged by 44.6 per cent to retail at an average of 175.9 shillings compared to 121.7 shillings in May 2021.


As the Genetically modified (GM) foods debate continues to intensify in the country, consumers and millers are enjoying stable maize prices following the harvest in parts of Kenya and the arrival of cheap produce from neighbouring countries.

Maize prices have declined from 6,000 to 5,600 shillings in Eldoret. The product’s price has reduced from 5,900 shillings to 5,400 shillings in Kisumu and 5,600 shillings down from 5,900 shillings in Nakuru and Nairobi.

Consequently, a 2kg packet of Pembe Maize Meal costs 179 shillings. Soko Brand of the same quantity sells at 211 shillings, while 5 kg and 10 kg of Soko go for 539 and 1,080 shillings, respectively.

Although costly for most Kenyans, considering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing drought causing a shortage in supply, it’s a relief compared to the period between July and September.

Dola and Kifaru Maize Flour Cleared for Consumption


Kenya Pishori, an aromatic, popular local rice variety, currently goes for 650 shillings per 2kg and 1,399 shillings for 5Kg bag.

On the other hand, the wholesale price of a 25Kg of Grey and White Basmati Rice is 3,400 shillings and 3,200 shillings, respectively in Nairobi.

Similarly, the 800g Jamaa Cream Bar soap retails at 230 shillings. Menengai cream bar soap amounts to 235 shillings, while a kilo of the same is sold for 294 shillings.

Table summary of the prices of essential commodities in November 2022

Commodity Quantity Price (KSH.)
Sugar 2kg 350
Cooking Oil 5L 1.199
Cooking Fat 500g 175
Maize 90 5.600
Maize Flour 2kg 211
Rice 25kg 3,400
Wheat Flour 2kg  207

According to the World Bank report Commodity Markets Outlook, the cost of living is expected to drop from January next year as volatility in the global market eases.

The global lender projected the country’s inflation to ease to 6.4 per cent in 2023 and 5.5 per cent the following year.


Lynnet Okumu

LA writes on various subjects, from family, relationships, and health to commodities in East Africa. She is a graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication from Masinde Muliro University. She is an advocate for women's and children's rights.

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