Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, says it is planning a longer-term investment in Zimbabwe’s coffee industry following the success of a partnership with Nespresso and local coffee farmers.
An initiative by the Swiss food giant in the southern African country has signed up about 2 000 growers, compared with 450 last year, according to the Agriculture ministry.
Nestle plans to build on that, its regional head said in an interview.
“The coffee industry used to be 10 times bigger,” Bruno Olierhoek, chairman and managing director for Nestle’ Southern Africa, said in Harare.
“There is really scope for many years to rebuild.”
At its peak, Zimbabwe produced 15 000 tonnes of coffee a year, but a land-reform programme to address racial imbalances emanating from British colonial rule pushed the industry into decline.
The country has since been plunged into a lengthy economic crisis from which there is little sign of recovery.
Nestle’s support for coffee farmers comes alongside a commitment to invest US$2,5 million in a new cereal-manufacturing unit in Zimbabwe, building on a US$40 million investment in the country over the past decade.
“Next year we hope to export over US$10 million dollars’ worth of products from Zimbabwe to neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and also South Africa,” Olierhoek said.
The new line that was commissioned last week will increase output by 30%, according to a statement released by the company.
The commissioning coincided with the launch of two products — Nestlé Cerevita Instant Sour Porridge and Nestlé Cremora with Milk.
Nestle Zimbabwe managing director Eunice Ganyawu-Magwali, said the commissioning of the products reaffirmed the company’s commitment to Zimbabwe.
“The milestones above are aligned to Nestlé Zimbabwe’s transformation plan which seeks to address accessible and affordable nutrition,” she said.
“The transformation plan, which was rolled out towards the end of 2019 is focused on future proofing the business in Zimbabwe through import substitution, local value chain development, expanding manufacturing capacity, increasing capacity utilisation, innovation and renovation of our product portfolio focusing on use of local ingredients, digital transformation, empowering communities and leading the sustainability agenda,” Ganyawu-Magwali said.
She said the new products had over 80% local content which was expected to enhance their affordability on the local market and competitiveness in export markets. Ganyawu-Magwali added that the company remained focused on evolving its strategies and making changes needed to deliver balanced growth.
“We unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come. The new products fit into Nestlé’s nutrition, health and wellness strategy. Nestlé Cerevita Instant Sour Porridge is fortified with iron and Vitamins B1, B5, and C which make it a healthy and nutritious offering with a unique sour taste. The innovations seek to fill the existing gap on traditional consumer taste preference of Zimbabweans,” she said. — Agencies ■