SA may face bread shortage as riots hit yeast, wheat supplies

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A nationwide bread shortage looms as bakeries face a double whammy of critical wheat and yeast supply problems due to rioting and looting in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Anchor Yeast's main yeast factory is located in Durban, which supplies bread bakeries across the country.

Because of closures on the N3, there are problems with getting yeast delivered from Durban to major bakeries in Gauteng, and due to the impact of the riots on operations at Durban harbour, there is difficulty getting imported wheat to millers in KwaZulu-Natal to produce flour.

Anchor responded on Wednesday that, "as with other manufacturers, we are dealing with an unpredictable situation at present and are not able to provide immediate information. As soon as we are [able to], we will [provide an] update".

Fin24 understands that Anchor's board was set to meet virtually on Wednesday morning. 

According to a reliable source in the bread baking industry, if the N3 is not made safe soon, the supply of raw materials like yeast from suppliers in KwaZulu-Natal in to major bakeries in Gauteng could lead to bread shortages as early as next week.

He added that bread baking in KwaZulu-Natal has already come to a halt and there are reports of shops in that province as well as Gauteng already running out of bread due to disruptions in the supply chain or the destruction of shops.

Tiger Brands, which owns the Albany bread brand, confirmed to Netwerk24 that it is currently not producing bread in KwaZulu-Natal. A spokesperson also said that it is experiencing problems in delivering bread in Gauteng, especially with gaining safe access to riot-hit areas.  

READ | Food shortages expected: One KZN farmer forced to dump 28 000 litres of milk a day amid riots

Fin24 reported earlier that Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal faced looming food shortages as riots and looting disrupt the agricultural supply chain. Dr John Purchase, CEO of the industry body for agribusiness, Agbiz, said more than 600 stores have already been looted or burnt down, mostly in these two provinces. This will make the distribution of and access to food a problem.

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