NATIONAL Foods Limited has invested millions of dollars in a new pasta plant, aiming to reduce Zimbabwe’s huge import bill as demand for the product continues to grow.
The plant will be commissioned next month, and it will help meet the growing demand for pasta in the country.
Industry and Commerce Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, toured the plant in Harare yesterday.
National Foods chief executive, Michael Lashbrook, said it does not make sense to import pasta, which is basically flour and water, when the country has become a surplus wheat producer.
“Pasta is basically flour and water, and we are producing surplus wheat in our country, so our logic is why not take that wheat and convert it into flour and make an even higher value addition product like pasta,” said Lashbrook.
He said they were currently sitting at about 60 percent operation capacity and utilisation, and they have plans to grow operation capacity.
National Foods also opened a new biscuit plant.
The two plants cost a total of US$30 million, and Lashbrook pointed out that in the case of El Nino, they had adequate raw materials in place.
“We have adequate raw material at the moment. The big thing that you all may have heard recently is that India has banned export.
“India is a major rice exporter, but we have managed to source rice from elsewhere. That is what has been a bit of a challenge for us,” Lashbrook said.
Minister Nyoni said the Government was impressed with National Foods’ investment plans.
“I am really impressed by what National Foods is doing here because it shows growth within their business.
“We are impressed by their contribution, especially to food security, with a slant towards food self-sufficiency in Zimbabwe.
“We are also impressed by the capex investments which they are outlining, especially towards automation, modernisation and also trying to improve the production and processing efficiencies so that ultimately as a country and industry, we are competitive,” said Minister Nyoni.
She slammed companies which are delivering their goods to the informal sector.
“Manufacturers should deliver their goods to wholesalers, and wholesalers must deliver to retailers instead of what is happening now whereby companies are delivering to the informal sector.
“That whole process is distorting the value chain, and bringing chaos to the street. Those who are doing so should stop as that is taking jobs away from people,” she said.