Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
Schweppes Zimbabwe Ltd intends to venture into production of oranges as the company seeks to boost feedstock for its juice processing plant in Beitbridge, according to the group’s chief executive. Schweppes currently gets oranges from the orchards around Beitbridge, which are under severe pressure from strong demand for the commodity by global markets.
Charles Msipa, chief executive of Schweppes told Business Weekly the company was looking to start with 2 000 hectares, and gradually expand.
“We have requested land from Government where we can develop our orange plantations to supply the juice plant,” he said in an interview.
“Our team is working with the Government and is in the process of identifying some land where we can develop the plantations.”
Schweppes never owned a plantation and until 2007, the company mainly relied on Mazowe Citrus for concentrates.
However, production started declining in 2000 as a result of disturbances caused by the land reform programme, which started in 2000.
As orange output slumped, Mazowe Citrus, owned by Interfresh failed to meet juice concentrate requirements for Schweppes, prompting the company to look for alternative sources.
The Beitbridge Juicing Company now supplies Schweppes with about 75 percent of concentrate for production of Mazoe juicy, while the remainder is imported from South Africa.
“The acquisition has enabled us to secure a critical component in our supply chain,” Msipa said told our sister paper Southern Times recently.
The plant has capacity to process 28 000 tonnes of oranges annually with plans afoot to gradually increase output to 150 000 tonnes of fruit per annum, he added.
Schweppes is the manufacturer and distributor of non-carbonated, still beverages under licence from The Coca-Cola Company. The product portfolio currently includes cordials, fruit juices, bottled water and flavoured drinks. These products are marketed under well renowned brand names; Mazoe, Minute Maid and Schweppes Water.
Manufacturing is undertaken at the two branches, Harare and Bulawayo.. The branches have warehousing and distribution facilities from which they also supply the depots.
Recently, Schweppes began exports of Mazoe Orange Crush to Zambia to boost foreign currency earnings at a time the country is facing the shortage of hard currency.
Following media reports that the Zambian government was probing Mazoe Orange Crush on allegations that it was not fit for human consumption and does not meet the national food and safety standards, Schweppes said it has obtained the relevant approvals as provided for by the laws of Zambia.