Zimbabwe could face cake and cookie shortage as ‘critically low’ flour stocks are prioritized for bread

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Zimbabweans could be facing a biscuit shortage as flour is diverted to bread. Pic: ©GettyImages/Koraysa
Zimbabweans could be facing a biscuit shortage as flour is diverted to bread. Pic: ©GettyImages/Koraysa

Related tags Zimbabwe Shortage Wheat Flour Millers commodities

The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has suspended the supply of bread and self-raising flour to biscuit and confectionery firms to ensure continuous supply for major bread bakers.

In a notice to millers, Tafadzwa Musara, chairman of GMAZ, said the country’s flour stocks are critically low and it was important that major bread bakers been given priority.

Zim’s major bakers

GMAS's notice listed nine bakers, which, according to the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ), account for 95% of the bread supply to the market:

  • Lobels
  • Bakers Inn
  • Proton
  • Natbake
  • Oceans Bakery
  • Central Millers and Bakery
  • Major in-store bakeries in retailers Spar, TM/Pick n Pay and OK

“It is in the nation’s best food security interest that bread supplies improve nationwide for the benefit of all households,”​ he said.

He added the suspension would be reviewed after 14 days, during which time supplies of imported wheat are expected to improve.

Around 200,000 of wheat that landed at Beira in Mozambique weeks ago has been released as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has paid the balance of what was owed to UK grain distributor Holbud Ltd.

The loading and final shipment to Zimbabwe has begun.

Unhappy bakers

Ngoni Mazango, president of NBAZ, said its members were not in agreement with the suspension of the flour supplies.

“Some of our baking entities solely rely on confectionaries and the move taken by GMAS means they have to close for 14 days​.

“What is best is to ensure flour supplies normalize so that we all run our businesses. I would suggest that we, as an industry, find a way to expedite the availability of flour,” ​he added.

Price hike

The country’s low wheat supply has already caused a rise in the cost of bread since the beginning of the year, and Musarara has warned of another if GMAZ does not get a response soon from government requesting a subsidy for bakers.

“We have requested for a subsidy of $50 per tonne from government and for the bakers to get $7m per month to buy other ingredients other than flour so that the bread price comes down to $1,” ​he said.

“We submitted our request just before the new Cabinet was appointed.”

The loss of biscuits from supermarket shelves is just one more hardship crisis-weary Zimbabweans will have endure since the country’s economy went into a spiral under former President Robert Mugabe at the turn of the century.

Despite a new administration, though, the situation does not appear to be brightening.

Since Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected president at the end of July, prices of basic commodities have been increasing in response to the instability in the parallel foreign currency market.

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