ZIMBABWE – Schweppes Zimbabwe, manufacturer and distributor of non-carbonated beverages in Zimbabwe has commissioned a 500 kilowatts solar power plant to run its Beitbridge Juice Plant.
According to the company’s Managing Director – Mr Charles Msipa, the ground-mounted solar plant is able to supply 500 kilowatts of energy and is adequate to support the plant’s requirements.
Currently, the company is finalizing agreements with the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to be able to feed any surplus power into the national grid, reports Chronicles.
“It has been fully commissioned and running. What is outstanding is to finalise net metering with the ZETDC, so that we can get credit for the power that we supply into the main grid,” said the Schweppes’ Executive.
The shift to use of green energy is aimed to enable the beverage maker to sustainably run the juice processing facility as it embarks on increasing its processing capacity.
Shweppes, operating under a licence from The Coca-Cola Company Limited, currently processes 20,000 tonnes of fruits annually, against a target of at least 40,000 tonnes.
The deficit is due to limited supply of raw materials in the local market, necessitated by the fact that land placed on citrus production has been reducing over the years from around 10 000 hectares to between 4 000 and 5 000 hectares.
“It has been fully commissioned and running. What is outstanding is to finalise net metering with the ZETDC, so that we can get credit for the power that we supply into the main grid.”Managing Director – Mr Charles Msipa
In a bid to bridge the gap, the company is seeking to invest US$35 million in the next 10 years into a 2 700-hectare citrus plantation.
In order to enhance community development in Beitbridge, 300 hectares at the new citrus plantation has been reserved for use by members supported by Schweppes.
The plantation will be served with the Zhovhe Dam, ensuring that it has plenty of water for irrigation-based farming.
The company is also exploring ways of expanding its line of products hence Mr Msipa said the Beitbridge plant was designed to process mainly citrus fruits and that they will have to make changes to be able to process other types of fruits including the indigenous ones.
“We are always looking for ways that can utilise the capacity of this plant. In April, every year, we process grapefruit and lemons, but by far the biggest fruits processed are oranges, but we are always alive to new opportunities,” he said.
In the year ended March 2021, Schweppes registered a marginal decline in volume by 1%.
This was an indication of notable recovery in main line crushes and syrups and the benefits from the relaunch of the Minute Maid Juice drinks.
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