SWISS-based food giant, Nestle, has strengthened its Zimbabwe operations with close to US$30 million in investment, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) has learnt.
The managing director of the company’s south cluster that includes Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, Ben Ndiaye, told C&M that the investment, spread over the last four years, was used towards capital projects that included the refurbishment and upgrading of several plants to increase production capacities and efficiencies.
The company also constructed a new administration block and quality assurance laboratory at its Harare factory.
Nestle Zimbabwe also installed an underground water tank to increase water storage by more than five times.
The spending demonstrates the company’s commitment to pursuing projects expected to provide profitable, long-term growth for shareholders.
Nestle Zimbabwe also launched a US$14 million dairy empowerment scheme in December 2011 whose main objective was to rebuild the dairy industry in Zimbabwe.
Two thousand dairy cows for large scale commercial farmers and 2000 dairy cows for the small scale farmers are being imported to support this scheme, which will run for the next five years.
The milk from the small scale farmers will be delivered to the Nestle factory for processing in the Egron tower which was commissioned recently.
“Since 2011, our parent company has invested close to US$30 million in the refurbishment and upgrading of the cereals and Milo plants and equipment, Cremora and milk powders production plants in Zimbabwe called the Egron,” said Ndiaye.
“The company also installed two mega silos for storage of raw materials and built a new administration block and quality assurance laboratory.”
Last month, the company commissioned the refurbished US$8 million Cremora and milk powders production plant at its Southerton factory in the capital.
While the old line of milk powder produced 900 kilograms per hour (kg/hr), capacity will now increase by about 67 percent to 1 500kg/hr.
Capacity for cremora powder is also expected to increase by 77 percent to 1 600 kg/hr from 900 kg/hr.
Industry and Commerce Minister, Mike Bimha, lauded Nestle Zimbabwe.
“The expansion in the milk powders and cremora manufacturing lines comes at a time when many Zimbabwean companies are struggling or closing shop mostly because of lack of capitalisation,” said Bimha.
“Nestle Zimbabwe’s resilience in a difficult environment is a positive story and is a 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.
“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.”
Nestle has been in Zimbabwe for over 56 years, positively contributing to the economic growth and employment creation in the country.
It currently employs about 200 permanent employees.
Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette