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FLOUR SHORTAGE

Mill owners say they will stop work until mills closed this week are reopened

Mill owners say they will stop work until mills closed this week are reopened

A worker holding wheat grains in a flour mill in Beirut, March 1, 2022. (Credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

BEIRUT — The Mill Owners’ Association announced in a statement Thursday that in light of “flour shortages … exacerbated by delays in payments covering the cost of wheat from Banque du Liban,” mills would stop working until the “mills closed [this week] reopen.”

Here’s what we know:

    • The decision to stop work “until work resumes in the stopped mill” came after an “urgent meeting, attended by the entirety of [the association’s] members, to discuss the stoppage of a mill,” the statement read, adding that wheat shortages are “exacerbated by the continuous and prolonged delay by the Banque du Liban in paying the price of wheat for more than a month.”

    • Spokesperson for mills in the South, Ali Rmeil, said on Tuesday that “the closure of [Crown Flour Mills] for about a week, and the Dora Flour Mills being out of order due to the depletion of wheat stocks, which cover over 50 percent of local flour demand, cannot be covered for by any other mill.”

    • On Thursday, Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced that $15 million for wheat imports was approved by cabinet, saying that “official reports showed that large amounts of flour were being stockpiled in bakeries and depots either to be smuggled or sold on the black market.” Referring to the closed mills, Mikati said “Some of the quantities stored by the mills were affected by some mold and dampness. The matter is now in the hands of the judiciary.”

    • On Wednesday, the General Director of Grains and Beets at the Ministry of Economy, Gerges Berbari, told online publication Al Araby that “there is a wheat shortage caused by the judicial order against mills that supply a number of other mills after a preliminary examination of their wheat revealed it to be moist and lumpy after water leaked into the importing vessel.”

    • Mount Lebanon Bakery Owners’ Syndicate head Antoine Seif said in an interview with local station MTV Tuesday that “mills have put their wheat in storage and the Agriculture Ministry has taken samples for testing, including a test that needs to be conducted in France.”

    • The Federation of Bakeries’ Syndicate warned of a “bread crisis” on Wednesday, noting that mills hadn’t delivered flour in two weeks. Meanwhile, Economy Minister Amin Salam said, also on Wednesday, that “more than 50,000 tons of wheat” were available and that he is coordinating with the World Bank to cover import costs of wheat and other essential food products for a period “between six and eight months.”

    • Fears of compounding disruptions to wheat and bread supplies have risen since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, as Lebanon imports the bulk of its wheat from the Black Sea region.


BEIRUT — The Mill Owners’ Association announced in a statement Thursday that in light of “flour shortages … exacerbated by delays in payments covering the cost of wheat from Banque du Liban,” mills would stop working until the “mills closed [this week] reopen.”Here’s what we know:    • The decision to stop work “until work resumes in the stopped mill” came after...