Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
KWEKWE-based dairy products firm, Dendairy, has more than doubled its milk production to achieve 10 million litres a month from 4,5 million litres as its expansion drive pays dividend.
The surge in Dendairy milk production comes at a time when national output has also increased by 18 percent in the first six months of the year as the country seeks to achieve 93 million litres from 80 million litres annually.
The Government has been scaling up support for the dairy sector through national budgets following the introduction of a five percent duty on dairy imports to finance the dairy recovery programme.
Players in the dairy sector produced 79,6 million litres in 2021, representing a four percent increase from 76,69 million litres produced in 2020, official records show.
This is against annual demand of about 120 million litres.
Since the country cannot produce enough milk, excess demand is met through powdered imports mainly from neighbouring South Africa under a duty-free quota system to approved importers.
However, under the Livestock and Recovery Growth Plan, milk production is expected to rise to 93 million litres by end of year and to 120 million litres by 2024.
In an interview, Dendairy managing director Mr Darren Coetzee said they have since upgraded the Kwekwe plant.
“We have made a US$20 million investment since inception and recently we had an upgrade of US$3 million dollars to automate the plant,” he said.
“We have controls that are now powered automatically to make sure we have clean power and if power goes off, immediately it switches on. That means we don’t dump any product as production will continue.”
Mr Coetzee said under capacity utilisation, Dendairy is now making 10 million litres of milk per month.
“We used to do 4,5 million litres a month and we have ramped it up to 10 million litres a month. The business operating environment has stabilised and that’s a big positive for the industry to see stability and we hope the stability continues,” he said.
Mr Coetzee said more dairy products from Dendairy will be on the market soon.
“We have enough equipment and we are looking at new products come 2023. We are also making a new product where we are making milk out of maize,” he said.
Dendairy currently produces Maas (fermented milk), UHT (ultra high temperature) milk, UHT flavoured milk, yoghurts, ice cream, and fruit juices.
The company has been exporting mainly to Mozambique.
Dendairy has been investing heavily in its factory and growing its raw milk supply since its establishment in 2004.
The company has continued to experience market penetration and growth within the Zimbabwean market and expanded its footprint into the region.
President Mnangagwa visited the company recently and toured its newly installed maizely products producing plant whose products are earmarked for export markets.
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka who also attended the tour said the country was on the right path to meet the 120 million litres of milk by 2024.
He said with companies such as Dendairy doing well in terms of investing in science and technology, capacity utilisation is increasing.
“From the perspective of the ministry this is very good, Dendairy is the fastest dairy production company in the country at the moment and vertically integrated and with such establishments, we are on the right path to meet the 120 million litres of milk by 2024,” said Minister Masuka.