Natfoods sees output growth Mike Lashbrook

Tapiwanashe Mangwiro-Senior Business Reporter

National Foods says it will ramp up production and expand its market share driven by a new flour mill that will be installed to replace the existing plant at its Bulawayo Basch Street site.

The firm purchased a new state-of-the-art flour mill at an estimated cost of US$5 million from Switzerland. Market analysts believe the new mill will contribute to increased efficiencies from 2023 going forward.

Natfoods chief executive Mike Lashbrook told shareholders at the firm’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday  this week that the equipment was being manufactured and will arrive in the country in March next year.

Thereafter, the company will commission it between October and November 2022.

“That mill will increase our capacity in Bulawayo by 60 tonnes a day. So, I think if that trend continues we will see some improvements in profitability and volumes. Also we expect additional market growth due to improved capacity,” he said.

Mr Lashbrook said efforts to develop the local raw material value chain were ongoing through the provision of funding and material support to local farmers.

“Summer contracted crops will be run through as normal. We expect around 30 000 hectares of maize and soyabeans. The preparations have been finalised now, launching will be in the next few weeks,” he revealed.

Another major capital development project, which is on track is the Harare breakfast cereal plant, scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.

At the AGM, non-executive directors and auditors’ remuneration were approved at $6,93 million and $14,67 million, respectively.

Shareholders also approved a share buyback. The firm had a solid first quarter, after volumes surged by 24 percent compared to the same period last year to 143 000 tonnes.

“Summer contracted crops will be run through as normal. We expect around 30 000 hectares of maize and soyabeans.”

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