Nestlé baby food factory hit by load shedding - DG

Cape Town - The Nestle baby food factory in Harrismith has been disrupted by Eskom’s load-shedding with the consequence that there is a shortage of baby food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director general Edith Vries reported on Wednesday.

At a pre-budget vote media briefing at parliament, the DG - who sat beside Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzele Zokwana - responded to a question how badly the agriculture sector had been hit by power cuts.

She said the agro-processing sector "was harder hit by the energy cuts" than the broader agricultural sector.

She had recently visited Nestle’s Harrismith factory and it had been explained that because of the particular chain of production, load-shedding interrupted the production "so much so there is a shortage (of) baby food".

Nestle South Africa opened the new production line valued at just short of R350m in 2009 in Harrismith.

It focuses on baby formula and baby cereal. It is estimated on the Nestle website that the formula industry was worth R1.5bn a year in SA and the cereal stream worth R400m a year.

Meanwhile Zokwana played down the impact of load-shedding by the power monopoly Eskom on farmers. Indicating that at a farmers' meeting in Bothaville in the Free State he had been surprised by the mood of the farmers.

"No-one can pretend load-shedding is not causing problems," said the minister, who acknowledged that in the aquaculture area where constant supply of electricity was needed, there would be negative effects.

Farmers should look to renewable energy particularly in small scale operations, he proposed.

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