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Natfoods volumes rise

ZIMBABWE'S largest food manufacturer National Foods

ZIMBABWE'S largest food manufacturer National Foods (Natfoods)  said this week it witnessed volume increases across most of its business units in the first quarter of this year, driven by a wide range of product innovations.

The company said it would bring more new products to the market and commission new plants in the near future.

However, on a year-to-year basis, volumes declined by 5% to 418 000 tonnes compared to last year.

The decline in volumes was largely caused by the flour unit which was affected by higher wheat prices globally leading to higher bread prices. Again, the entrance of new players in the flour milling market heightened competition in the sector.

In its trading update for the first quarter ended March 31, 2023, Natfoods said volumes in the stockfeeds unit showed encouraging growth in the last two quarters after a difficult first quarter.

This has been driven largely by the poultry category.

“In similar vein, the maize unit has shown solid recovery over the last two quarters, which traditionally are the peak period for the business.

Natfoods has launched a number of sorghum and millet-based products, providing consumers with a wider range of healthy starch options.” the company said.

The food manufacturer indicated that the down-packed unit continued to show steady volume improvements buoyed by value rice, which saw increased volumes on the back of its affordability, notably compared to bread.

The snacks unit produced solid volume growth for the period, mainly in the hard snacks category while the King range continued to lead the market in the soft snacks category.

“The CCB (cereals) unit witnessed a volume increase of 42%.

 A new breakfast cereal range comprising flakes and instant cereals was launched in December 2022. To date, the products have been well received by the market.

“As advised previously, the group has a substantial pipeline of new projects, with a projected investment value of US$30 million over the course of this financial year and next,” Natfoods said.

The company added that these projects will see Natfoods reducing imports of manufactured food products into the country.

Natfoods said that the Harare breakfast cereal plant had been commissioned and the first products have been released to the market.

Further additions are expected to be made to the range of breakfast cereals over the coming period.

“Installation of the new state-of-the-art flour mill in Bulawayo is almost complete and this plant is expected to be commissioned in June 2023. Work on the new pasta and biscuit plants is underway at Stirling Road, Harare. It is expected that these plants will be commissioned late in 2023,” Natfoods said.

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