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Shortage of consumer goods looms after freeze order on quality mark stickers

The standards agency is investigating the sale of contraband goods and fake stamps

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The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) suspended the issuance of new import standardisation mark (ISM) stickers following a recent discovery that millions of fakes were in circulation.

The directive has seen dealers retain consumer products, including rice, toothpaste, detergents and sanitary towels, in their warehouses as it is illegal to trade in such goods without the stickers.

Retailers expressed concern over the blockade which has now lasted for more than three weeks.

Higher prices

They argued it could translate to cost overruns as goods stay longer in the go-downs and the shelves get emptied, setting the stage for higher consumer prices.

“Consumer products like rice, which are fast-moving, will be affected most if this is not sorted out immediately,” Naivas Supermarkets chief operating officer Willy Kimani is quoted by Business Daily as saying.

The country imports huge amounts of rice, mostly from Pakistan, to cover the shortfall in domestic production.

However, products already certified by Kebs under the Diamond Mark of Quality Scheme are exempted from mandatory application of ISM.

It is suspected that the ISM stickers, which were introduced in September 2015, had been tampered with, weakening the fight against the sale of contraband and fakes.

Kebs said the freeze order is expected to give way to a new tamper-proof quality mark.

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