Michael Tome-Business Reporter
National Foods (Natfoods) has invested US$7 million in a new breakfast cereals plant to broaden its product range, cut on imports and consolidate its dominance on the local market share.
William Kapfupi, National Foods managing executive, cereals unit, revealed this on Friday during a launch by the company of five new cereal variants set to enter the market to complement the already dominant “Pearlenta NutriActive” instant maize porridge.
The new product range, described as suitable for any age group and energy-giving, includes Pearlenta NutriActive cornflakes, bran flakes, all bran flakes and two instant cereals.
These come at a time when Natfoods volumes in the cereals segment grew by 35 percent in the 2022 financial year, driven mainly by the Pearlenta NutriActive instant maize porridge, which proved to be the key product in the agro processor’s cereals range.
In its latest annual report, National Foods indicated that it was embarking on an exciting period of expansion with entry into a number of new categories as it seeks to value-add its portfolio of basic products.
Many of these products will see the localised manufacture of products that had previously been imported, reducing foreign currency requirements and increasing demand for locally-grown produce.
Natfoods indicated that it was mulling the introduction of baby food, which is nutritionally relevant for local babies, at some point next year.
“We have invested US$7 million for these five new products and other products we make, we are also going to launch baby food that will come from the same investment,” said Mr Kapfupi.
He said the firm was exporting the Pearlenta NutriActive instant porridge and had intentions to start exporting the new cereals range early next year, amid expectations the products will start filtering into the regional market by January 2023.
“We are not exporting yet, but definitely we will be exporting soon because we know we have the product that can compete not only in Zimbabwe but in the region, so definitely we are going to be exporting because exporting helps us to generate foreign currency for the country, foreign currency is what we also give back to farmers that produce raw materials for us,” he said.
Natfoods sales and marketing manager, Nomagugu Moyo, said the launch of the new products was motivated by the need to make the company’s products readily available to consumers, grow the cereals product range market share and maintain market leadership.
She said cereals in the market were not unaffordable, “so we have merged the two, we have brought in a quality cereal, high-quality cereal at an affordable price” so that anyone who wants to try cornflakes van afford them.
“We have our first range of Pearlenta NutriActive that we launched three years ago, it is an instant porridge, currently it’s at 50 percent market share with this new range of cereal we aim to grow to about 60 percent of the market share,” said Moyo.
National Foods also has the “smart aarbs” cereal range that is derived from traditional grains such as sorghum and millet.