Rob Rose Editor: Financial Mail

Some months ago, before chronic blackouts reared their head again, many thought it a bit overly dramatic of ratings agencies to flag Eskom as the biggest threat to the SA economy. Sure, blackouts aren’t great and Eskom does have some pretty gruesome debt, but the biggest risk? More than Jacob Zuma? More than land expropriation done recklessly? Well, one company, Pioneer Foods, can attest to just how the chaos inside Eskom can ricochet down the supply chain, scrubbing out profit margins and plunging a stake through the heart of many companies. If you’re wondering who Pioneer is, chances are you know the company’s products well. If you haven’t bought a loaf of its Sasko bread, you might have tried its Ceres fruit juice, Lipton ice tea, cereals like ProNutro or Weet-Bix, its Bokomo rusks, or its Marmite. But Pioneer’s bad luck was in having a number of wheat and maize mills in some of SA’s tumbling-down municipalities. Think Walter Sisulu in the Eastern Cape (which includes Aliwal Nort...

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