ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwean milk processor, Dairibord Holdings, is set to commission a new US$1.5 million manufacturing plant.

The facility which is nearing completion will produce ice cream and yoghurt as part of its expansion plan.

According to reports by The Herald, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed company, has not had a functional food manufacturing plant since it took the decision to decommission an old plant, to replace it with a new and more efficient one, as part of its renewed expansion drive.

The latest initiative comes hot on the heels of an aborted acquisition of fellow industry competitor, Dendairy, through which the company was looking to grow its brand portfolio for both domestic and export markets.

Dairibord Chief Executive Officer Anthony Mandiwanza highlighted that the new plant would bolster the company’s ability to meet product demand and grow its market share in the country and beyond.

“On the food side, it has been really a supply concern because we decommissioned the main food plant in Harare so that we could put a new state of the art plant at a cost of about US$1.5 million.

“Foods, which are mainly ice creams and yoghurts, have not been in the market significantly because we decommissioned the plant deliberately so that we launch the new plant in the second half, and we are on the verge of doing that.

“We are sorting out our processing site so that our capacity and product availability is enhanced,” said Mr Mandiwanza.

This comes on the backdrop of a strong financial performance in the first half of 2021, during which volumes uptake outstripped comparative for the last five years.

During the period under review, the company reported a 65% rise in revenue to ZW$4.2 billion (US$11.6m) from ZW$2.5 billion (US$6.9m) registered in the corresponding previous year.

The solid top line performance was a result of the 54.5% increase in sales volumes and moderate price adjustments to minimise margin compression.

According to the company, demand was firm across all product categories, with sales volumes for the period being 54.5% above prior year.

Volumes in the first quarter were up 18% compared to Q1 of 2020, while Q2 volumes increased by 112% compared to Q2 2020.

The quarterly trend was due to the impact of the level 4 lockdown instituted in Q1, after which market access opened up significantly. The inverse trend was experienced in the previous year where the lockdown was in Q2.

Liquid Milks, Foods and Beverages volumes increased by 22%, 52% and 87% respectively compared to same period last year.

Despite the growth, Group Chairman Mr Josphat Sachikonye admitted that demand still exceeded supply across the product portfolio, particularly in the liquid milks category which is constrained by raw milk supply challenges.

Raw milk utilised during the period was 1% above prior year, while national milk production was 2% down, mainly impacted by high stock feed prices.

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