BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ALPHA Omega Dairy, a company owned by former President Robert Mugabe is singing the blues with operations at below capacity and low uptake of its products in the market.
The former Zanu PF strongman was pushed out by the military and his party to resign from the presidency in 2017 after 37 years in power.
The company’s southern region sales executive Cassim Asani told NewsDay that the uptake of their products in supermarkets was very low.
“Business for the first quarter of this year was not as it was last year. On our side, we are pushing as a company because we want to be viable, we are producing the products but the rate of uptake in supermarkets is very low because the majority of the people do not have enough buying power,” Asani said.
“So from our market research and market intelligence, we have discovered that people want to buy products but they are not buying or buying limited quantities”.
Asani said schools which used to be their top customers for dairy products like yoghurt and ice creams had altered their diets because of the economic hardships.
During Mugabe’s time in power, the company was touted as a model of success of the land reform programme Zimbabwe embarked on at the turn of the millennium.
Asani said the company’s operations were being hindered by foreign currency shortages.
“…when we want to import ingredients and spare parts, forex is not yet readily available. So this is our biggest challenge and as a result, we are limited in our operations because of that. Sometimes, we end up having to raise prices to keep us viable like everybody else.”
“We hope authorities are working on that (availing forex) so that our economy returns to its green days. We haven’t laid down any staff. Our capacity utilisation is not bad. For now we are at 58%, we have not been running juices due to packaging material challenges but we have managed to secure something. We are now running juices and we expect our capacity utilisation to go up,” he said.
“We are a company that runs professionally and we are an equal opportunity competitor in the market. We face the same challenges like other companies face.”
Last May, State-owned media reported that the company was facing eviction from its rented Harare offices over $29 134,22 arrears.