SWISS-HEADQUARTERED food processing giant Nestle Zimbabwe is working on a grand scheme for exponential increase in milk intake from the current four million litres per year to 25 million by 2020.
While the company would not be drawn into revealing the finer details on the plan, Nestle Zimbabwe managing director Mr Kumbirai Katsande confirmed the plans in an interview on Friday.
Earlier, during the firm’s open day he had said the firm had set aside a total of US$14 million for a dairy development programme targeting to import 4 000 heifers for small- and large-scale farmers.
The health and wellness foods manufacturer is only able to get about 5 percent of its milk requirements, which forced the company to suspend some of its milk- based brands three years ago.
“This is the company’s plan (increasing milk intake to 25 million litres by 2020) over the next three to seven years,” Mr Katsande said, adding that the plan is informed by the company’s 2020 vision.
Nestle Zimbabwe is firmly focused on supporting hundreds of dairy farmers across the country for all its milk requirements considering the company gets its entire milk supplies from local farmers.
The plan demonstrates the company’s commitment to investing in Zimbabwe at a time other sceptical multinationals are sitting on the fence waiting for the economic environment to improve.
Nestle’s confidence in Zimbabwe is also amply demonstrated by the Swiss multinational’s US$20 million new investment on plant upgrade to increase capacity to supply local and export markets.
“Since 2010 Nestle Zimbabwe has invested close to US$20 million in the refurbishment and upgrading of cereals and Milo plants and equipment to increase production capacities,” Mr Katsande said.
Speaking at the open day, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha commended Nestle for the investment, which not only increased production and export capacity but also created more jobs, dovetailing into Government’s priorities under its Industrial Development Policy.
The investment has enabled the company to scrap caps on orders for previously limited brands such as Cerevita Chocomalt due to increased production capacity in the cereals manufacturing plant. New varieties of Cerelac, Cerelac Maize and Cerelac Three Fruits were also launched.
The minister said Nestle’s efforts fell in line with the Government’s Industrial Development Policy “seeking to align with other objectives which seek to replace antiquated machinery with new technologies for import substitution and increased manufactured exports”
and that the Government would create a conducive environment for economic growth and businesses viability.
Nestle has since resumed production of one of its popular brands Milo, which was suspended two years ago while Nido that was suspended three years ago due to milk shortages would be back on the production line next year.
“We are resuming production of Nido and already there is new equipment that is being commissioned now. Nido has a ready market into Zambia and Malawi,” Mr Katsande said.
Two mega silos for storage of imported raw materials were installed and this will facilitate consistent Cremora supply. A new administration block and quality assurance laboratories were also built.
Mr Katsande said the fresh investment will enable the firm to continuously increase production to meet demand in the export market. Nestle is exporting to Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
The Swiss multinational is planning a further US$8 million to US$9 million investment next year in the milk processing plant with a view to increasing both the production quality and capacity.