By Ndafadza Madanha
NATIONAL foods volumes rose 25% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year on the back of firm consumer demand while profitability was in line with projections.
Addressing shareholders at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) group CEO Michael Lashbrook said inflationary pressures had led to significant increases in its products particulary on imported items.
He said the flour unit continued to operate at maximum levels and volume could have been increased if capacity was available..
Meanwhile in a bid to secure raw materials for operations National Foods will continue to support local farmers through its contract farming schemes.
“The company continues to work with the RBZ to manage funding for its wheat import requirements. The flour unit is expected to continue to operate at maximum capacity for the forseeable future.
Efforts to develop our local raw materials pipeline are on going through the provision of support to local farmers. This summer our contract farming schemes will amount to 9 000 hectares of maize, soya beans, sugar beans and popcorn”.
Last year National Foods directly supported the production of 8 700 hectares of maize, wheat, soyabeans and sugar beans.
Most companies in the food manufacturing sector have embarked on contract farming schemes in bid to secure raw materials and in the wake of debilitating foreign currency shortages.
“Product supply has been largely consistent to the market in most categories although supplies of some products which use imported raw materials such as cooking oil and salt have been impacted by foreign currency availability.
In the recent quarter inflationary pressures have increased, significantly particularly on imported items. Unfortunately this has resulted in price increases across the basket of goods we produce”
Lashbrook said consumer demand continued to be high as maize volumes grew by 55% compared to the previous year as the maize harvest was lower than last season and consumers also elected to sell their home grown maize to the GMB.
The stockfeeds division grew by 44% as the sector recovered from the Influenza outbreak.