Bread 'scarce' as rioting in KZN and Gauteng close supply channels

14 July 2021 - 13:26
By belinda pheto AND Belinda Pheto
Bread is in short supply or not available at all in parts of Gauteng and KZN. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/279photo Bread is in short supply or not available at all in parts of Gauteng and KZN. Stock image.

Bread is becoming a scarce commodity in shops that remain open as bakeries cannot operate as violence continues in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Siobhan O’Sullivan of Premier Foods, which produces Blue Ribbon bread, said operations had been significantly affected by ongoing protests and looting in the two provinces.

“Some of our operations have been hit, mostly due to employees not being able to get to work. Our priority is the health and safety of our employees, and we are doing our utmost to ensure they are not put at risk. We have not been able to deliver staple foods in KwaZulu-Natal since Sunday,” she said in response to a query from TimesLIVE.

O’Sullivan said access to fuel, raw ingredients and packaging were also hampering their ability to supply basic foodstuffs to communities that need it most. She said KwaZulu-Natal has been worst affected.

“Food security is critical for communities. Premier Foods plays a significant role in ensuring people have bread, maize and wheat, among other products. We monitor the situation daily, are in contact with our suppliers and customers, and distribute where and when we can,” she said.

“There may be disruptions in supply or delays in deliveries in the inland region, but we foresee continued disruptions in KwaZulu-Natal.”

O’Sullivan said they remain focused on ensuring access to critical staple foods for the communities they serve.

Albany Bread issued a notice on Twitter, saying its bakeries in KwaZulu-Natal had temporarily closed. Delivery of bread in Gauteng was constrained due to difficulty in getting to some areas and a number of stores being closed.

Residents in parts of Soweto and Kagiso on the West Rand have reported there is no bread in shops still able to trade.

Kanyisa Ndyondya, Tiger Brands group media and PR manager, said they temporarily closed operations in KZN after vandalism, looting and restricted access to select sites in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We continue to monitor the situation. To ensure the safety of our employees, the company has temporarily closed operations in KwaZulu-Natal. The safety of our employees, facilities and our consumers is our number one priority.”

The company, one of the largest manufacturers of food in Southern Africa, said its bakery operations and distribution of bread had been suspended because of store closures.

“We are engaging with government and support their efforts to restore calm, reopen key transport routes and create a safe environment for the resumption of business to ensure an adequate supply of goods and commodities throughout the country,” Ndyondya said.

In Gauteng, delivery of bread is constrained due to challenges in accessing certain areas as well as the number of stores being closed as a preventive measure.

This is a developing story.