• S. Africa's biggest food maker says consumers under pressure
  • Company plans to pass some cost increases on to consumers

Tiger Brands Ltd. fell the most in more than a month, wiping out this year’s gains, after the largest South African food producer said higher grain prices and slowing consumer demand is weighing on profit.

The warning from the Johannesburg-based maker of Albany bread and Black Cat peanut butter comes as a drought causes the price of key South African staples such as white corn to more than double since the beginning of last year, and wheat to rise 18 percent. These increases have been exacerbated by a 28 percent plunge of the rand’s value against the dollar over the period, fueling the price of imports in a country where more than one in four is unemployed.

“With consumers under considerable financial pressure, the impact of the depreciating rand and rising soft commodity prices was only partially offset by price increases,” Tiger Brands said in a statement on Tuesday. The company achieved sales growth of 7 percent during the four months to end-January, compared with the year-earlier period, it said.

The stock dropped 5.7 percent to 300 rand by the 5 p.m. close for a decline this year of 5.2 percent. The securities lost 14 percent in 2015.

The company will pass on some cost increases to consumers, Noel Doyle, Tiger Brands’ acting chief executive officer, said during a conference call. It expects inflation to accelerate in the second half of the year, he said.

“We’re going to do a particular delicate balancing act over the next six to eight months,” he said. “If we stuck to market share at all costs, that cost could be very significant.”

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