Iconic Namibian artisanal bakery Hansa Bakery shuts down

NAMIBIA – Hansa Bakery, one of Namibia’s oldest baking firms is closing the curtains to its over 40-year-old business, due to loss of business and pilling cost of operations.

Signifying the end of an era, Hansa Bakery together with its Przybylski bakery and confectionery unit will finally close their doors on April 30th.

This according to a report by Allgemeine Zeitung, was triggered by the company’s long struggle with cost of operations i.e., raw material prices, energy and production costs which have exploded in recent years.

Also there has been intense competition from retailers having their own bakery and setting lower prices.

This trend has spilled over to hotels and restaurants who now bake their own pastries, in addition to the availability of cheap import goods from abroad.

Further to that, the owners indicated they have been experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, in particular difficulties in finding a successor.

“We really tried everything, but in the end, we had to make the decision. We are very sorry because with the closure a lot of specialist knowledge, traditional recipes, the bread and cake variety, manual skills, many jobs, a piece of the food culture and a Swakopmund tradition will be lost,” said Hansa Baker Owner – Gerhard Pohl.

Global artisan bakery market is expected to reach a market value of US$ 4.5 billion by 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic also propelled the situation from bad to worse as it led to their production shrinking by almost 50%.

The Hansa bakery has its origins in the South West Bakeries (SWB), which was taken over by three partners in 1967.

At that time, Apollo bakery which closed in 1997 due to economic reasons was one of them.

In 1969 SWB took over the Przybylski bakery, followed by the acquisition of Putensen bakery in 1970.

In 1978 the Hansa bakery was found in Swakopmund and the production of all other bakeries were relocated there.

In the 1980s, SWB employed around 140 people, dropping to about 20 people, majority being long-term employees.

Even as Hansa Bakery shuts down its business, the global artisan bakery market is expected to grow at a significant rate of 4.1% from 2019 to 2024 to reach a market value of US$ 4.5 billion by the end of 2024, according to Market Research Future.

Higher demand for on-the-go bakery food products and changing consumer preferences towards baked food are driving the market for an artisan bakery.

In addition, growing demand for gluten-free baked food products among vegan consumers is boosting the growth of the market.

However, alternatives such as Industrial bakery products and variations in consumer preferences may hamper the market growth of artisan bakery during the forecast period.

One of Namibia’s milling and baking giant, Namib Mills Ltd opened a new state-of-the-art bakery plant in 2019 worth N$134.6m (US$9.2m).

The plant enabled the company to expand its processing capacity with the launch of a new brand of bread, Bakpro Superior Loaves, further cementing its market share in the country’s bakery sector.

Referred to as travelling plant, the new facility employs world class-technology and it is automated, running the entire process of mixing, fermenting, baking and packaging, requiring no human contact.

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