As the food industry picks up the pieces after it was decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector now has to deal with load shedding as many businesses battle to survive.
Just this past week, the struggling state-owned power utility, Eskom, warned that South Africans could face a bitterly cold winter and stated it may have to ramp up load shedding to stage 8.
Eskom has not yet gone beyond stage 6 of power cuts, but many households and businesses are already facing electricity outages of more than 10 hours a day as South Africa faces its worst power crisis on record.
Karabo Mojapelo, a passionate chef who runs her company, the All Black Group, and is affectionately known as the “Chef In Black”, says load shedding has affected how she has to conduct business.
Mojapelo told Business Report that load shedding has caused a huge negative impact on the food industry.
“We rely heavily on electricity to run our businesses efficiently, from food preparation and storage to operating electronic equipment and maintaining proper lighting. During load shedding, these essential activities are disrupted, leading to potential food spoilage, decreased productivity, and financial losses. The lack of a consistent power supply hampers our ability to meet customer demands, deliver quality products, and maintain food safety standards,” she said.
Mojapelo says that she was forced to invest in costly alternative power sources or adapt some business models, causing additional strain on operations.
“Overall, load shedding profoundly impacts us, jeopardising not just my livelihood but also farmers from who I purchase organic fruits and vegetables from,” she said.
The chef said that load shedding also drives the prices of sustainable foods up as local farmers feel the pinch of load shedding.
“On our side, having to transport the food from sourcing and storing the food has been a steep challenge because of the combination of load shedding and the forever rising petrol prices,” she said.
Businessman and entrepreneur Angelo Zachariades, who owns a restaurant, expressed his frustration, revealing what it could mean for his business.
According to Zachariades’ calculations, he could find himself spending R1800 or more a day on diesel just trying to keep his doors open.
Speaking to IOL, a frustrated Zachariades described the situation as dire and incredibly difficult.
“It’s got to the point where it is almost impossible. Unless you don't have any borrowings from the bank, you can’t afford the kind of additional costs the load shedding brings,” he said.
The Chef in Black further said that load shedding places further stress on not just her but for her clients for who she caters for as well, with worries of food being served cold due to the power cuts.
“We have had to find ways to make sure that we constantly have hot consumable food that people can enjoy . We bought food containers that allows our food to stay warm for the longest time. So even if food has to be transported to the venue, it will still be warm with a great taste,” she told Business Report.