The Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organization has announced that it would increase the supply of flour going to the domestic market in a move designed to allay consumer fears of a looming flour shortage. "Suppliers and bakers did not take their quotas of flour in full even though we have offered it in full over the past five weeks. It shows that the market has a sufficient supply," said Waleed Al-Khereiji, director general of the grain silos, denying any possibility of a flour shortage.
There is plenty of flour in all provinces in addition to a reserve stock of 2.5 million bags ready for release when additional supply is needed, Al-Khereiji said. While rumors were circulating recently that Makkah province was short of flour, the Jeddah branch of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry sent a letter to the grain silos saying that the market had enough supply, he said. The letter also said the ministry's field monitors observed sufficient supplies.
"The increase in the quota to suppliers will remove all misunderstanding about the availability of flour and reports about emerging black markets," Faiz Hammadah, chairman of the Bakers' Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said. "There is not one iota of truth in the reports that flour is scarce in the western region," he said. He also commended the total cooperation between the grain silos and the suppliers. Fahd Batarafi, a distribution contractor, said the flour is available in the market more than its demand. "Bakers do not experience any shortage of the stuff. It is also clear beyond any doubt that the grain silos will supply more of it when the demand arises," he said.
He said the grain silo's disclosure about its reserve stock should end the rumors. He believed that some traders who wanted to hike prices artificially were behind the rumors. It was reported last month that contractors secretly channeled their surplus to new bakeries not endorsed by the grain silos. Suppliers demanded the competent authority to intervene and impose deterrent penalties to prevent the emergence of a black market for flour. The grain silos has nine centers across the country with a production capacity to cover the needs of all 6,500 bakeries. The Kingdom's flour reserves amount to 2.52 million tons, and new projects are currently being implemented for extra storage capacity of 710,000 tons to cover the needs of the Kingdom for one whole year, the report said.