Zim Bread "Wars" Escalate

By Professor Matodzi
Harare, July 21, 2015 – In the Bible, Luke Chapter 4 Verse 4 reads;
“….Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes
from the mouth of God.”
This was the response that Jesus gave to a tempter who had challenged
him to command some stones to turn into bread and by this Jesus meant
that physical nourishment is not sufficient for a healthy life since
man also has spiritual needs.
But several years on, Zimbabweans seem not to care about this
inspiring scripture, going by the bread “war” that is fermenting among
the country’s leading bakers as they fight for market dominance in the
baking industry.
Bakers Inn, a subsidiary of Innscor Africa Limited recently rebranded
its packaging and has mounted an advertising blitz in which it has
unveiled a new pay line “better taste, more value” and boasts that its
bread is “premium soft white”.
On the other hand, Lobel’s Bread, has invoked its extensive number of
years in the baking industry and the uniqueness of its bread as the
war escalates.
In its adverts, published mainly in the print media, Lobel’s Bread,
boasts that it has stood the test of time for the past 58 years and
its product has an “original Lobel’s taste” since it commenced
business operations in 1957.
In Harare, Lobel’s Bread which boasts of baking “prime white loaf”
claims that its factory produces 250 000 loaves and is striving to
deliver “quality” bread with the best “taste” on the Zimbabwean
Lobel’s Bread’s pay line is “because some things should never change”.
Undeterred, in March, Bakers Inn slashed its retail price for bread
from $1 a loaf to $0.90c in its bid to grab a bigger slice of the
bread market while Lobel’s Bread maintained its price at $1.
The Innscor Africa subsidiary, which commenced operations in the 80’s
contends that consistently updating its brand suits the changing needs
of its customers and its refreshed look “perfectly articulates” its
unique selling proposition; “Freshly Baked.”
Bakers Inn says it has increased bread production from 60 000 loaves
per day in 1995 when it set up the first bread plant in Harare to a
national capacity of 400 000 loaves by 2010.
This is not the first time that these main bakers have quarreled as
last year, Bakers Inn was accused for employing “dirty tactics” in its
battle for market dominance after using corporate colours for bread
packaging similar to those of its rival, Lobel’s Bread, which
observers noted had the effect of confusing consumers. Naturally, such
a competitors’ marketing gimmicks could not taste so well for
competing brands.
Eight years ago, Zimbabwe’s economic crisis manifested itself in
serious shortages of bread, foreign currency, fuel, electricity and
other basic commodities. This forced consumers to import bread from
neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana
while creating a thriving black market for the country’s number two
staple food, which was exacerbated by the imposition of price controls
by President Robert Mugabe’s government, which regularly fixed the
retail price.
Several years after Jesus’ teachings, it remains to be seen who among
the top country’s bakers will emerge as David or Goliath from this
bread slaying match.