Zimbabwe: Cheap Smuggled Mealie Meal Imports Choke Local Milling Industry

Zimbabwean millers have raised concern over the proliferation of cheaper brands of smuggled mealie-meal which they say continued to threaten the local milling industry.

Mealie-meal brands mostly from neighbouring Botswana and South Africa has flooded the local market, a development that has seen local millers scale down operations, and in some instances, laying off workers.

Southern Region millers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com this past week said unless government intervened, a lot of milling companies could be forced to close shop.

Said one miller, “Smuggled foreign maize meal is killing Southern Region millers. We have stopped milling because the imports have adversely affected us in a manner that we cannot sell our mealie-meal.

“The imports are selling at US$3.50 for a 12,5 kg while we do not have that packaging. We only have 5, 10, 20 and 50 kgs. This price comparison is making it very difficult to sell the local product.”

The miller said his company was recently forced to lay off dozens of workers because retailers were no longer buying local mealie-meal brands.

“We have just laid off all our 59 staff members because we have no market for the mealie-meal. We have sent home the workers on forced leave with no pay because it is no longer possible to operate,” said the miller.

A worker at Rasesh milling company, Prosper Sibanda said his company has also scaled down operations due to the flooding of the cheap mealie-meal imports on the market.