National Foods has established a $700 000 rice packaging plant in Mutare to meet increasing demand for the product and complement economic growth in Manicaland Province.
The rice packaging plant will enable the company to take advantage of Mutare’s proximity to Mozambique and the Mozambican port of Beira, through which the company brings in its rice from Asia.
Prior to commissioning the plant, the company’s rice was packaged in Harare. Now all National Foods rice is being packaged in Mutare.
The new development is one of a number of expansion projects National Foods has undertaken in recent months. It recently established a depot in Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa.
“Rice is no longer the luxury that it used to be,” a National Foods spokesperson said. “In the past, it tended to be seen as food for the affluent only or was reserved for important occasions. It is now becoming part of everyday meals for more and more families.
“With our pricing, we see it becoming a staple food, second only to sadza,” he said.
The spokesperson said National Foods was interested in being part of the economic growth taking place in Manicaland, largely as a result of diamond mining taking place there.
He said this played a part in its decision to establish the plant in Mutare.
Over the weekend National Foods re-opened its Bulawayo flour mill closed in 2009 to boost its flour production.
National Foods rice brands include Mahatma rice, Red Seal rice, also a Thai rice and Mama Africa rice. It also sells Malawi rice and Better Buy rice.
The company said establishing a dedicated facility in Mutare had increased its packaging capacity.
The increased demand for rice is believed to be linked to price reduction and improved purchasing power of individuals.
South Africa’s largest food company, Tiger Brands, in October increased its stake in National Foods as part of its expansion into countries on the continent.
Tiger Brands raised its holding in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed corn miller and cooking oil company to 37% after purchasing an additional 11%.