The Location of the Early Biscuit Producers

This is a map of South Africa as it was up to 1994, before the additional provinces were created,.  It shows where all the early factories were situated up to 1946 when I joined the industry.

It will be noted that there are two dates shown against “Baumanns” in Durban.  1883 is the date when the first “ship biscuit” manufacturing machine was installed by my grandfather, Mr J M L Baumann, in Durban.  He had an established, large bakery business.  The more important date is 1895 when he installed the first versatile biscuit machine.  This could make a variety of biscuits.

It can be claimed that Durban was the birth place of the biscuit industry in South Africa and I have seen it also claimed that it was the birth place of the “Marie Biscuit” in South Africa.

1 L. Baumann 1883/1895 Durban
2 Pyott's 1901 Port Elizabeth
3 Whyte's 1910? Port Elizabeth
4 Pyott's 1914 Cape Town
5 Whyte's 1917 Durban
6 Baumann's 1918 Cape Town
7 Gain's 1920 Johannesburg
8 Hay's 1927 Pietermaritzburg
9 Pyott's 1921 Durban
10 Minerva 1935 Durban

 

The Development of Biscuit Machinery 

As each of the biscuit makers developed he tended to serve the towns in which he was established and then gradually extended his trade further afield.   Pyotts serviced Port Elizabeth and as time went by established a factory in Cape Town and later in Durban.   Bakers sold to the Durban area gradually extending deliveries to Maritzburg, East London and the Transvaal.  Baumanns serviced Cape Town.   Hays were mainly operating in Maritzburg and looked after that area, whilst Gains Biscuit Factory in the Transvaal (later Three Rings Biscuits) sold mainly in Johannesburg and along the Reef.    Then, as the territories were extended manufacturers began to overlap and biscuit manufacturers found themselves in competition with one another.  

Initially all manufacturers operated quite independently and had very little contact with each other.

Generally speaking not much attention was paid to production efficiency or delivery service.  The main thrust was to send out travellers to the various store keepers to take orders for biscuits, to watch competitors activities, to combat competitors prices and to try to induce more business by way of discounts.

Most of the biscuit varieties were at first copies of items being imported from overseas by the wholesalers along the coast.  Popular lines were Marie biscuits, Cream Crackers, Ginger Nuts and probably Lemon Creams.   All biscuit manufacturers therefore copied these, but of course produced other lines based on their own ideas.