Tunisia – First milk, now Coca-Cola. Supply chain and payments problem hits food production

11

Location: Tunis – Tunisia

Language: Arabic

Duration: 00:05:16

Sound: natural

Source: A24 in Tunisia

Restrictions: A24 subscribers

Date: 12/09/ 2022

Storyline:

In the latest sign of Tunisia’s financial troubles, soft drinks have joined milk as a basic grocery item that’s now hard to find on supermarket shelves.

The local Coca-Cola bottling plant is reducing production. Consumers complain they can’t buy their favorite soft drink, and workers suffer from lost pay due to reduced operating hours. 

Since mid-summer, Tunisian port workers witnessed a drop in the arrival of basic foodstuffs.

In addition, curtailed supply chains now cut production at food manufacturing facilities.

The shortage includes products such as coffee, butter, milk, and cooking oil.

Mohammed  Al-Tuwaiti, a commerce ministry official, told A24 that the government is working to solve the sugar shortage and maintain market equilibrium.

But in interviews with A24, manufacturers say there’s a risk of a complete shutdown of soft drinks, biscuits, and candy production.

Shotlist:

– Soundbite (Suhail Boukhris – Secretary General of the University Branch of Tourism, Trade, Food Industries):

“We have been living through this crisis since June and until today only 40,000 tons of sugar have been supplied to factories, which is only 10-20% of the quantities required in terms of production capacity. The shortage has disrupted manufacturing of soft drinks, biscuits, sweets and chocolate, which has subsequently caused a decrease in working hours for workers. The shortage has led to the lack of these products in the market, as well as lack of monthly income for workers. This situation is unprecedented in Tunisia. There is also the fallacy of monopoly that the state is hiding behind. However, the opposite is true, as sugar supply has fallen significantly, perhaps for purely financial reasons, as we usually consume 90,000 tons within three months. The state only supplied the market with 40,000 tons, so how can it be regarded as a monopoly?”

– Soundbite (Mohammed Hussam El-Din Al-Tuwaiti – Director General of Economic Research at the Ministry of Commerce):

“Many disruptions occurred in global markets, international transportation and shipping operations, which affected supply operations in all countries. There is also the issue that many countries took restrictive measures in exporting raw materials and foodstuffs. Tunisia experienced intermittent and situational disruptions, in the supply of sugar, as well as other products. Currently the supply system is almost back to normal; we supply about a thousand tons of sugar daily divided between end consumers and manufacturers.”

– Soundbite (Suhail Boukhris – Secretary General of the University Branch of Tourism, Trade, Food Industries):

“The quantities we obtained cover only 20% of the required amount. There were promises of sugar shipments that would arrive soon to supply Tunisian market with sugar, but when we tracked shipping at the commercial port, we found nothing. Factories of soft drinks, biscuits and chocolate are 90% likely to close down if lack of sugar supply persists.”

– Soundbite (Mohammed Hussam El-Din Al-Tuwaiti – Director General of Economic Research at the Ministry of Commerce):

“The Tunisian Chamber of Commerce is working on solving the shortage of sugar, making all efforts to supply the necessary quantities. There are 20,000 tons to be distributed starting next week, in addition to contracted purchases in the process of reaching Tunisian ports. There were some manufacturing issues, but contrary to what is heard about the suspension of operations, supply has not and will not be stopped. Consumers should rationalize their consumption behavior, because when there is disruption in supply, it prompts them to consume more quantities, causing stores to run out within a few hours. That in addition to the squandering phenomena that is increasingly growing.”

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