ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s export of processed foods registered a bullish performance in 2020 despite the heavy strain from the Covid-19 pandemic, attaining a 17.9% rise in earning from US$98 million in 2019 to US$115 million, and further up from US$71.2 million recorded in 2018.

This was revealed by the national trade promotion body, ZimTrade highlighting that top exported products included sugar fetching US$76 million, fruit juices earning US$5.6 million and pastry products gaining US$3.7 million.

The growth was triggered by access of new markets, increased investment in better technologies, adoption of global standards and accreditations on food safety and traceability.

Zimbabwe’s processed foods sector performance far outweighed overall export growth of 2.7 percent earning the country US$4.39 billion, up from US$4.28 billion recorded same period in 2019.

Although this falls short of the 10 percent export growth set under the National Export Strategy, it reflects commendable efforts that went to ensure the country retains a positive export growth, reports Chronicle.

“This is indicative of the potential that the sector has to national exports, considering that Zimbabwe-produced processed foods are reputable for high quality across the world,” ZimTrade said.

Zimbabwe’s overall export grew 2.7 percent in 2020 earning US$4.39 billion

Horticulture sector takes a hit

Although there was export growth, there are some sectors that recorded a decline, primarily as a result to trade disruptions such as restrictions on air traffic and closure of borders.

The horticulture sector, which is amongst the top four foreign currency earners for Zimbabwe, registered a 13.5 percent decline from US$68.8 million in 2019 to US$59.5 million in 2020.

This happened because of lockdowns around the world, which weakened demand for Zimbabwe’s main fresh produce; peas, citrus fruits, berries, and flowers.

“With the short lifespan of horticultural produces, some farmers were forced to destroy their produces as they had no market to sale,” says ZimTrade.

While these exports fell, ZimTrade sees opportunity in “superfoods”, which are in demand internationally due to their high protein and low calories.

An example of these are avocados, whose production of the likes of Ariston and Meikles have been looking to expand.

“Currently, as part of its trade facilitation activities, ZimTrade is engaging buyers in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain who have expressed interest to source from Zimbabwe if farmers are able to meet demand and have competitive prices.

“The country is also in the process of establishing a citrus protocol with China, which is expected to ease and improve exports to the Asian country.”

Zimbabwe’s major export destinations in 2020 were South Africa (39%), UAE (20%), Mozambique (9%), Uganda (3%), Belgium (2%), and Zambia, Botswana and Kenya each accounting for 1%.

Noteworthy is exports to Mozambique grew 15% from US$354 million in 2019 to US$408 million in 2020.

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