The import tariff on wheat is expected to go up by 30 per cent soon and South African consumers are unhappy about the possibility of a bread price increase.

The North Gauteng High Court last week ruled that the government should publish the new wheat import tariff. South Africa is a net importer of wheat and imports about two million tons a year, which is about 60 er cent of the country's wheat requirement.

While the tariff increase is important to protect local wheat farmers, an increase will mean millers who import wheat will have to pay more for it.

The South African Chamber of Baking says that while it is sympathetic to the farmers, the consumer is likely to suffer as a result of a tariff increase.

The Chamber's Executive Director, Geoff Penny, says: "We have had the El-Nino effect and climate change and we had the terrible drought last year. We have also had the effects of the weak rand, and although it has strengthened recently, however we don't know where it's going to go.

"So, those things have all impacted on the price of wheat and therefore the price ultimately of bread. The farmers may need a certain element of protection and we as a baking industry are very concerned about the plight of the farmer as well because the South African wheat industry actually produces a very good quality wheat so, it would be a shame to see the industry disappear."

Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo notes the expected tariff hike will be coming on the back of low international wheat prices.


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