HARARE, Dec. 4 — One of Zimbabwe’s largest food manufacturers, National Foods, announced Tuesday that it will shut down its two mills due to foreign currency shortages.
The indefinite shutdown is expected to affect the supply of bread whose price recently went up from 1.10 U.S. dollars for a standard loaf to about 1.50 dollars as bakers cite high cost of raw materials.
In a letter to its customers dated Dec. 3, the company said it has been facing difficulties in settling its foreign wheat suppliers due to the foreign currency shortages.
“Due to delays in repatriating payments to our foreign wheat suppliers, our wheat suppliers have today (Monday) instructed National Foods to cease draw down of wheat stocks. National Foods will mill out the wheat in process and we anticipate both our mills in Harare and Bulawayo to close on Wednesday 5th December,” the company’s chief executive Michael Lashbrook said.
The company warned that unless the payment situation is rectified, it expects to be out of stock of baking flour later this week.
“National Foods continues to work with the authorities to resolve this foreign payment issue. We would like to reassure you that we have a full pipeline of both imported and local wheat booked and that once payment is made we will immediately restart milling operations,” Lashbrook said.
Zimbabwe’s crippling foreign currency shortages have resulted in shortages of critical imports such as fuel and medical drugs.
Motorists are spending hours on end queuing up at pump stations to get the scarce commodity while junior doctors at the country’s referral hospitals have gone on strike demanding payment of their salaries in U.S. dollars, among other things.
This is the second strike by the doctors this year alone. – XINHUA