ZIMBABWE – National Foods (NatFoods), one of Zimbabwe’s largest food manufacturers plans to commission pasta and biscuit plants before the end of the year as part of the company’s new products and expansion strategy.
NatFoods is one of Zimbabwe’s largest food manufacturers and produces a broad range of food commodities including maize meal, flour, rice, salt, snacks, biscuits, pasta, sugar beans, baked beans, popcorn, and a full range of animal feed.
Speaking during a tour of the company’s operation by Industry and Commerce Minister Dr. Stembiso Nyoni, Mr. Mike Lashbrook, NatFoods’s Chief Executive Officer said that the expansion project is part of a US$30 million investment that the company set aside two years ago.
“The pasta plant is expected to come online this year; the biscuit plant will be completed by December this year while in Bulawayo we have invested in bread capacity,” he said
According to him, the investments in the value chain will ensure the company produces competitively against regional products.
Mr. Nyasha Mhizha, managing executive of the new biscuit division said that they procured the latest state-of-the-art equipment to be able to compete with our regional peers and substitute them with local products.
He noted that there are a lot of imports coming into Zimbabwe of superior quality hence the new plant is envisioned to make NatFoods competitive.
With the new investments, the company is seeking to ramp up production and expand. Other major projects in the pipeline include a new flour mill in Bulawayo and a second cereal plant in Harare.
NatFoods adequately stocked, but worried about El Niño
Meanwhile, NatFoods has announced that it has enough stock of raw materials including maize, soya bean, wheat, and traditional grains for the next six months,
However, the company has expressed concerns about the El Niño weather pattern which could negatively impact the 2023–24 agriculture season.
“We have adequate raw materials at the moment, and there are no issues in terms of supplies of rice, soya, wheat, and maize.”
The bulk of its raw materials comes from agriculture. However, weather experts have since warned of the El Niño effect that could affect Zimbabwe and other regional countries.
If El Niño leads to challenges, we will engage the Government which has already proactively allowed some imports despite good stocks,” said Mr. Mike Lashbrook.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in July declared the start of the devastating climate phenomenon, warning its return would lead to rising global temperatures and extreme weather conditions.
The U.N. weather agency estimated there is a 90 percent probability of the El Niño event persisting through the second half of the year and it is expected to be “at least moderate strength.” According to the WMO, it occurs on average every two to seven years in episodes lasting nine to 12 months.
In Southern Africa, Zimbabwe, alongside Mozambique, and Madagascar are listed as highly exposed nations to the potent climate phenomena making a return in almost four years and threatening extreme conditions such as heat waves and floods.