ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s National Foods Limited will re-open its Mutare maize milling plant as it seeks to meet the growing demand of maize meal.

The Herald reports that NatFoods is currently operating two milling plants in Harare and Bulawayo, but the growing sales have seen NatFoods struggling to meet the demand.

Mr Lawrence Katinyu, NatFoods marketing executive said that reopening the plant, which has a milling capacity of 9 400 tonnes of maize and has been inactive since 2016, will help meet the demand.

“We have seen volumes growing to the point that the two mills (Harare and Bulawayo) cannot satisfy the market,” said Mr Katinyu.

However, introduction of new products such as Pearlenta high-fibre maize meal, which is blended with either maize or wheat bran has also partly driven the increased demand.

Last year, Natfoods also introduced multi grain meal — a blend of maize, wheat sorghum.

National Foods managing executive for maize division, Mr Chipo Nheta said that the plant will be employing 40 people per shift with the number of shifts to be determined by the demand.

“Initially, we are looking at milling 3 600 tonnes per month and employ 40 people per shift in total, National Foods has five milling plants,” he said

The Gweru and Masvingo plants remain closed with all the five plants having a combined monthly milling capacity of 51 000 tonnes.

The company has been financing small-scale farmers through its contract farming programme in a bid of supporting production in the country.

During 2017 /18 season, the company directly supported production of nearly 9 000 hectares of maize, wheat, sugar beans while Pure Oil, a unit of National Foods supported 2 100 hectares of soya bean during the last season.

Natfoods is one of the country’s largest manufacturers and marketers of food products, with a footprint spanning pre-packing and sale of dry groceries to the manufacturing of stock feeds and food products.

The company, listed on the ZSE, operates its investments sectors which include milling, manufacturing, distribution and property.