Flour shortage looms as National Foods closes down mills

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African News Agency

Cakes could be in short supply at Christmas as National Foods, one of the largest food manufacturers in Zimbabwe announced it would be shutting its doors because it had been unable to pay its suppliers due to a crippling shortage of foreign currency.

In a letter to its “valued customers” the company – jointly owned by Tiger Brands and Innscor Africa, an Harare-listed company – National Foods said it anticipated the mills in Harare and Bulawayo would close on Wednesday.

It said it would still mill out wheat in process and supply the limited stock it had in hand.

The company, which has fast foods, maize and flour milling, snacks manufacturing, poultry and edible oils units under its portfolio, blamed foreign currency shortages for the impending closure of its mills.

Zimbabwe, which abandoned its own currency in 2009 to use a basket of currencies mostly led by the US dollar, is in a serious economic bind – foreign currency, fuel and medical supply shortages are the order of the day.

“As you are well aware the nation has been facing foreign currency shortages for some time. As a consequence, National Foods has faced difficulties in settling its foreign wheat suppliers,” the firm said in a letter dated 3 December 2018.

Tiger Brands owns about 37 percent of the company.

“Our suppliers regret having to take this position but have themselves reached the point where they cannot fund their businesses,” National Foods said.