Wheat and Flour
Wheat and Flour
Throughout the war, strenuous efforts were made to maintain adequate reserves of essential imported foodstuffs. Arrangements with regard to wheat, which had to be imported in substantial quantities to augment New Zealand production, furnish a good illustration of one of the more successful schemes.
The satisfactory New Zealand supply position for wheat was attributable, in the early stages, to the precautions taken by the National Supply Committee prior to the outbreak of war. Arrangements had been made with the flour millers to carry additional stocks of wheat.1
New Zealand wheat production was boosted by a guaranteed price and it was possible to import substantial quantities of wheat from Australia at favourable prices.
New Zealand's requirements of wheat were estimated, in 1939, at nearly ten million bushels a year, but were to rise to over thirteen million bushels a year by 1945. Extra demands for flour, as a result of some other foods being rationed, and the loss of supplies of alternative grains, such as rice, sago, and tapioca, contributed to the extra need for domestic use. Wheat requirements for poultry also more than doubled as imported feeds such as barley, maize, bran and pollard became unobtainable from Australia, and wheat had to be used in their place. Australia placed an export embargo on bran and pollard in November 1940.
New Zealand production of wheat increased considerably during the war years but was at no time large enough to avoid the necessity for substantial imports. In most years, well over half of New Zealand's requirements were imported.
Towards the end of the war, arrangements were made to obtain extra wheat from Canada under Mutual Aid. Some two and three-quarter million bushels were so landed and a further nearly two and a half million bushels were received after hostilities ceased, and paid for at the ruling rate. About one million bushels of this wheat went to the poultry industry.
Chart 32 shows sources of New Zealand's wheat supply.
1 The Flour Extraction Control Notice, 1946. Gazetted 26 April (1946/60).
New Zealand was well supplied with wheat during the war years. Some countries would have regarded her low extraction rate throughout the war, and her practice of feeding so much wheat to poultry, as evidence of over-supply to the extent of waste. There was, in fact, some criticism by the Combined Food Board and its successor, the International Emergency Food Council, which were responsible for the allocation of allied wheat supplies and had to approve shipments from Australia; however, New Zealand usually got the quota she asked.