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Zim's largest milling company to close flour mills due to critical forex shortage

Dec 04 2018 16:38
Crecey Kuyedzwa, Fin24
Zimbabwe's largest milling company, National Foods, owned 37,45% by Tiger Brands, says it will close its flour mills on Wednesday, as it has run out of wheat stocks.

Like many Zimbabwean companies, National Foods has been struggling to pay its foreign wheat suppliers due to critical foreign currency shortages that have bedeviled the Southern African country for more than a year now. Due to the delays in repatriating payments to foreign suppliers, wheat suppliers, on Monday, instructed National Foods to immediately cease draw down of wheat stocks.

In a letter to customers, the milling giant said, "Our supplies regret having to take this position, but have themselves reached the point where they cannot fund their businesses."

It said it will mill out the wheat in process, and anticipate both mills in Harare and Bulawayo to close.  

"National Foods will supply the limited stock it has on hand but we regret to advise that unless the payment situation is rectified we expect to be out of stock of Baker's flour later this week.

"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," said the Company.

It said it continues to work with the authorities to resolve this foreign payment issue.

Flour is the most significant category in National Foods's portfolio,making it imperative that meaningful solutions to both the viability of the mill-bake value chain and the foreign wheat creditor position are found in the near future, the Company said earlier after releasing its results for its financial year to June 2018. 

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