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Zimbabwean Food Shortages Test Viability Of Online Grocery Services

Widespread severe food shortages are making it hard to obtain the essentials of life even for the fortunate Zimbabwean families whose relatives in the diaspora buy them maize meal and other staples on the Internet for delivery inside the country.

Online suppliers used to be able to get food to families in the country in two days, but now it is taking as long as a two weeks for some of the firms to fill orders.

Such businesses are being forced to turn to the informal or black market or import the goods from South Africa, boosting costs and stretching delivery times. Online business (sadza, prepared from maize meal, is a core component of Zimbabwean meals) has scaled back operations due to the shortages of basic commodities.

Founder Anesu Manjengwa said the delivery of groceries which used to take 48 hours now takes up to two weeks, testing the firm's resources and customers' patience. co-founder Laz Hege told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that with the exception of meat and smaller items, his firm is still able to bring basic goods to thousands in desperate need of food. has offices in Birmingham, England, and McKinnon, Texas.

Both Hege and Manjengwa said that when commodities are not available, they either decline to take orders or inform customers that it may take longer than usual to get the items delivered to their families and relatives.They both say they have not raised the prices of the commodities they offer for fear of losing customers.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...