Let’s Discuss Bread and Butter Issues for a Minute

I know we have a lot to contend with at the moment, but bread and butter issues will take the front burner.

Let me tell you something, in January 2018, South Africa produced 170 million loaves of bread – yes – you heard that right, ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY MILLION loaves of bread. But that is not all, this was actually down by 3 percent from the previous month and a percentage point from the corresponding period last year.

Our bread basket is comprised mainly of brown, white, and whole wheat bread. But, brown and white bread are the most dominant, with a combined share of 98 percent of all commercial pan baked bread produced in the country.

Although there is a rise in the popularity of brown and whole wheat bread, white bread still commands 50 percent of South Africa’s bread production. Brown bread makes up 48 percent and the rest is whole wheat and other types of bread.

Surprisingly, the overall decline in bread production in January was mainly in brown bread, which declined by 3.1 percent from December 2017, whilst, white bread production declined by just 2.5 percent from December 2017.

Despite this, the overall number of loaves reaching our plates is expected to increase over the following years. But who knows, maybe brown bread will tip the scales within the foreseeable future and take pole position.

Next time, let’s talk about the origins of the wheat that is used to produce South Africa’s bread – hint, almost half of it is imported.

Bye for now!

Note: I’m leaning on data from the good folks at the South African Grain Information Services (SAGIS).

Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo)

Author: Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. He is a columnist for Business Day and Farmers Weekly magazine. Sihlobo is a member of the South African Agricultural Economics Association. He has previously served as an economist at Grain South Africa. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

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