BY BUSINESS REPORTER
BEVERAGES production giant, Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited says it has clinched fresh deals with communities near guava forests across the country to collect the fruits and feed into BeitBridge Juicing Private Limited (BBJ).
BBJ is Schweppes’ subsidiary that processes guavas into drinks.
Managing director Charles Msipa yesterday told NewsDay Business that since 2017, Schweppes Holdings, through BBJ had partnered with communities in Zaka, Mhondoro, Mahusekwa, Hwedza, and Zvimba to pick guavas as part of the firm’s broad-based economic empowerment model involving 2 000 households.
“This grove to glass strategy is not only benefitting the company, but broader benefits across the industry have been realised,” Msipa said.
“Community empowerment and beneficiation has become key in all our new and upcoming projects. We are ploughing back and ensuring that communities grow as we grow. We are developing a business model that creates synergistic benefits and economic gains to all players across the value chain. We engaged communities with abundant guava forests to harvest guavas which we then process at our plants and used as a base for cordial drinks and other value-added products. We have empowered over 2 000 households predominantly women and youths. We collect an annual target tonnage of 1 500 and from which approximately US$150 000 has been invested to date. All payments to communities are remitted at source. This has allowed us to maintain a consistent supply of our guava-flavoured cordial juice drinks and the recently introduced Minute Maid Guava, giving customers an opportunity to enjoy organically-produced local beverages. Within the broader industry context, our grove to glass intervention is substituting imports of raw materials (base concentrates used in formulation) through local sourcing as we also sell and export to other beverages manufacturers both locally and across the region,” he said.
He said the success of the project was testament to the success of private sector and community collaborative frameworks and provided a template for other corporates to follow suit. The agriculture and food sectors remain bright spots in the pandemic-stricken global economy.
“With strong underlying growth drivers such as population, urbanisation, and with the Gods smiling upon us, it is expected to remain so,” said Msipa.
“Agricultural value chains have massive potential through greater levels of collaboration and cooperation between up and downstream players in the value chain,” he said.