Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mozambique’s First Bread Factory Causes Divisions
28 July 2017, 2:00pm
Berta Madime

The imminent launch of the first bread factory in Mozambique has been a divisive issue, pitting government and the owners against traditional bakeries in the beleaguered and volatile industry.
The government of President Filipe Nyusi, which has previously clashed with bakeries over plans to increase prices, has hailed the setting up of the facility.

The Espiga de Ouro (Golden Ear) factory will initially supply the capital Maputo, the industrial city of Matola and, eventually, the nearby provinces of Gaza and Inhambane.

The $50million bakery is owned by Mica, an established local business group. Espiga de Ouro chief executive Hussein Ali said the project was expected to create more than 1200 jobs. “We will produce an average of 1.5million normal loaves per day and 750000 round loaves,” Ali said.

He is proud to be moving away from the artisanal production of bread used in most of the about 2000 bakeries around the country.

“In the new factory, all the processes will be done by machines, from the moment we put in the wheat until the bread is ready.”

The factory will operate for 22 hours a day and will use 20000 tons of flour, to be sourced locally.

The move is anticipated to boost the country’s economy. It produces about 22000 tons of wheat annually. “The government, through the Mozambican Grains Institute, has a strategy to ensure that wheat we produce in the Tsangano district, in the western province of Tete, is supplied to this industry,” said Minister of Industry and Trade Ernesto Max Tonela.

Artisanal bakeries oppose the new kid on the block, while the public welcomes it.

The Mozambican Association of Bakeries claimed the factory would cause the loss of about 25000 jobs, due to mechanisation.

“To provide a monopoly of bread to destroy 25000 jobs in Mozambique is bad,” said Imtiaz Amugy on behalf of the association.

He argued Espiga de Ouro would destabilise the Mozambican bread market.

“They should partner with other companies already working in that sector instead,” Amugy proposed.

The opening of the bread factory coincides with Mozambique recently suspending a subsidy to bakeries, after the Institute for Standardisation and Quality established that some bakeries were selling underweight bread, against the country’s regulations.

A standard loaf should weigh at least 200g, but inspectors found some bakeries where loaves weighing as little as 120g were passed off as standard loaves.

The subsidies on bread and fuel were introduced in the wake of food riots in 2010. A 30% increase in the price of bread and double-digit percentage increases in fuel and water enraged Mozambicans, who took to the streets in protest. Over a dozen people were killed. Two years earlier, at least seven people died during similar riots.

Constantino Marrengula, a local economist, argued the industrial production of bread was inescapable.

“The time has come for a new player on the Mozambican market in the sector of bread production. Those in the same sector will need to adapt themselves and find new ways to keep their space in the market,” he said.

Government has also expressed its support.

“We are sure that the industrial production of bread will provide dynamism to the bread market,” Tonela said.

He said the entrance of a new player and the subsequent competition would boost stability and compliance. “The price of bread will be stabilised. The weight of the bread, which is often disrespected by producers, will now be respected,” he said. - CAJ News

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