BEVERAGE manufacture, Schweppes Zimbabwe will scale up production of its latest product, Farm Style, which is a tomato paste as part of the company’s efforts to promote import substitution.
SZL marketing and public affairs director Ms Unaiswi Nyikadzino said her company was considering producing Farm Style using organic tomatoes which are healthier than those grown conventionally.
“We have done some consumer research and according to the report, the uptake is very encouraging. Consumers consider it value for money in terms of price and quality compared to other local and imported products. Although we are competing with the likes of China, we are working on making our value chains more efficient so as to reach price competitiveness level and begin exporting,” she said.
Ms Nyikadzano said Schweppes has already invested in upgrading its manufacturing facilities.
“We are investing a lot in plants and manufacturing facilities. This year we added a new production line which was commissioned last week in Harare. We keep upgrading so as to take advantage of opportunities which exist in the local and export markets,” she said.
Schweppes is a franchise business of the Coca Cola Company. The entity has two departments, beverages and processing.
Ms Nyikadzino said the bulk of the company’s export business has been beverages and the firm is targeting new markets for its beverages buoyed by a production utilisation increase of three percentage points, up from 57 percent last year.
“At the moment, we are exporting Mazoe and Minute Maid to Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. We are working on penetrating Malawi and South Africa. It has taken a long time for us to enter the Malawian and South African markets because we are a franchise bottler and are licensed by Coca Cola to manufacture their products in Zimbabwe. They have to authorize us to supply another country and Coca Cola is currently working on licensing us to export to South Africa and Malawi.
“We are looking at significantly growing our exports especially when we start exporting to South Africa this year. This will also increase capacity utilisation of our production facilities which are currently at 60 percent. It will also increase our foreign currency earnings. Zimbabwe is a US dollars economy hence, we have done a lot of internal efficiency projects to be more efficient in production by reducing cost as we are exporting at zero margin because we decided that foreign currency is more valuable to the country than the profit. This also catalyses business continuity since we can import key raw materials for production,” she said.
However, Ms Nyikayadzo said Schweppes was failing to meet the local demand for orange concentrate due to low capacity utilisation.
“On the processing side, we have been exporting the citrus concentrate although we are not getting much fixture with orange concentrate because we are producing below capacity as we are producing about 15 000tonnes annually while each plant has the capacity to produce about 40 000tonnes annually.
“We have a plantation growth strategy in which we want to increase the number of plantations across the country in strategic areas for increased production of citrus fruits, mangoes, guavas and medium term fruits like passion fruits because they have a lucrative export market,” said Ms Nyikayadzo.