Pioneer Foods roots can be traced back as early as 1912 when, as a result of the agricultural and financial hardships caused by Second Anglo-Boer war (18991902), Swartland grain farmers formed a co-operative in Malmesbury called Wesgraan. Wesgraan was short for Westelike Graanboeren        Ko-operatieve Vereniging.

The co-op helped farmers to collectively boost wheat sales and pool resources, which enabled them to acquire equipment and other requirements more cost-effectively. Producers quickly realised the benefit of belonging to Wesgraan, and membership grew rapidly.


A few years later, in 1920, Wesgraan established a milling company to mill the wheat of its producers into flour and other marketable products, as well as to protect its members against price speculation. The milling company was called Bokomo, which was short for De Boeren Ko-operatieve Molen Maatschappij Beperkt. Bokomo was the first flour milling company of its kind in South Africa.


By 1929, the Great Depression and record droughts in the Cape had caused a decline in agricultural prices. Wesgraan and Bokomo realised they needed the support of other wheat co-operatives to remain viable. Therefore on 7 October 1930, Sasko was formed to sell wheat centrally for co-operatives across South Africa, with the goal to stabilise the wheat prices and industry. Sasko was short for Suid-Afrikaanse Sentrale Ko-operatiewe Graanmaatskappy Beperk.

However by 1934, Sasko had experienced a sizeable drop in the percentage of wheat it was handling, and stabilising wheat prices was still problematic. So, in order to retain control over its produce and remain sustainable, Sasko expanded and entered the wheat milling industry.

The Wheat Board

By 1935, government had established The Wheat Board to stabilise and regulate the wheat, milling and baking industries. By 1949, The Wheat Board provided farmers with financial support, standards, quality control and infrastructure. The Wheat Board also instituted weight regulations on bread loaves and controlled the price of wheat and flour. The Wheat Board therefore took over Sasko’s founding intention to stabilise the wheat industry and prices, leaving Sasko to concentrate on wheat milling.

Over the next few years, Bokomo and Sasko would form ties that would set the scene for their eventual merging.