Nestle invests $30m in Zim

HARARE - International food processing firm, Nestle, says it has invested over $30 million on the refurbishment and upgrading of its Zimbabwean unit in the past four years.

The company’s south cluster manager Ben Ndiaye yesterday said the funding was used on the renovation of cereal and milo plants and equipment to increase production capacities, efficiencies and introduction of new products and technology.

“Two mega silos for storage of raw materials were installed thereby facilitating consistent Cremora production,” he said adding that a new administration block and quality assurance laboratory was built. 

Ndiaye was speaking during the commissioning of Nestle Zimbabwe’s refurbished and upgraded Egron Milk powders and Cremora plant in the capital.

The cluster manager noted that capital expenditure for the plant upgrade, which has improved safety standards and production capacity, amounted to $8 million.

“Over and above the new investments at this factory, Nestle launched a dairy empowerment scheme in December 2011 whose main objective is to contribute in rebuilding the dairy industry in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Since the inception of the programme and even in prior years, we have continuously supported our contracted commercial farmers and recently we financed them in growing of maize silage hence reducing their milk costs of production,” Ndiaye added.

Industry minister Mike Bimha said companies like Nestle, which has been operating in Zimbabwe for the past 56 years, must be commended for continuing to invest in the country at a time when most firms are closing down due to lack of capitalisation.

“Nestle Zimbabwe’s resilience in a difficult environment is a positive story and is testimony to other potential investors that Zimbabwe is a safe destination for investment. Such commitments can only be achieved through collective and concerted efforts between the government and the private sector,” he said.

Bimha noted that lack of investments in new machinery and plants has been identified as one of the major factors inhibiting competitiveness in the sector.

“This is the reason why we are excited by the magnitude of this investment made by Nestle Zimbabwe,” he added.

Economic experts say the low levels of capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector — currently standing at 34,3 percent according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries — has resulted in an influx of imported goods into the country, thereby offering an uneven playing field.

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