Millers, bakery clash over flour imports
THE Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has appealed to the Government to cancel Lobels Bread’s import licence.
The giant bread manufacturer is being accused of allegedly sabotaging local millers through wheat importation despite the availability of the product locally.
Last week, the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) through its president, Mr Givemore Mesoemvura, also accused millers of increasing the price of flour.
Bakeries say the 20 percent price increase by millers from $27 to $32 for a 50 kilogramme bag of flour was unjustified but would not name the implicated millers.
GMAZ chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said: “I understand these falsehoods are being peddled by Lobels. For your information, we reported Lobels to the Vice President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) so that their importation privilege is reversed.”
Asked why GMAZ had not reported the issue to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce or the Competition and Tariff Commission, Mr Musarara said: “As industry we report to him (VP) on all matters related and incidental to food processing. “Imported flour is cheaper than local flour. Is Lobels then pricing their bread cheaper than Proton and Bread? If not, who is benefiting from flour imports?” Lobels Bread chief executive officer Mr Socky Kapnias said in response: “Firstly, the accusation by GMAZ is ridiculous and not worth responding to as we do not understand what the purpose of us making such statements would be. “We know our suppliers and if we have issues with them we can address our concerns directly to them. In addition, if this was a credible issue GMAZ would have raised it directly with us as they know how to contact us. “Regarding the allegation that we are not using local flour there is absolutely no truth in this accusation. We have only imported five percent of our flour requirements with 95 percent coming from local millers.” Mr Kapnias said the revival of Lobels was a thorn in the flesh for their competitors in the baking sector. “This competitive development is forcing some parties to resort to all sorts of tactics aimed at damaging the Lobels’ brand. Therefore GMAZ’s allegations should be viewed in this context, especially given its (GMAZ) membership. This is a good example of the dirty tactics they are using among many others,” he said. - @BiancaMlilo
Mr Tafadzwa Musarara