Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
BULAWAYO-headquartered diversified food manufacturer, Arenel, says the export market has managed to anchor its business operations at a time when local aggregate demand is depressed.
The firm produces a variety of products such as biscuits, mahewu, sweets and sauces at its factory in Belmont.
Briefing Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, before a tour of the company’s factory on Wednesday, Arenel compliance officer Mr Stephen Ncube said: “Currently, we are shipping one product (Marie Biscuits) to Zambia. Every week we are getting orders and we are supplying Lusaka.
“South Africa is coming up also in terms of purified water. Recently, we managed to send orders to South Africa. On the local market we have got a challenge of falling aggregate demand but we are still there in the market.”
Mr Ncube said as one of the sweets and confectionery companies in the country, their presence was everywhere locally, supplying all major retail outlets.
Arenel also exports some of its products into the region to countries such as Mozambique, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana.
“We are also looking into the global market and as we speak, on Saturday I will be leaving for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a food agro-expo there where I’ll also try to look for a market and also engage with potential suppliers as far as Dubai,” he said.
Speaking on some of the challenges that his organisation was facing, Mr Ncube said they were constrained locally especially on packaging material. “You find out that where there is a monopoly, they (suppliers) dictate the price which they give you and for you to go into the international or regional market, it becomes uncompetitive,” he said.
In light of this, Mr Ncube said, Arenel procures some of its packaging material from South Africa and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
“Our major constraint has been the biscuit front where we use a special type of flour called biscuit flour. Local millers are reluctant to give us that flour because they are more specialised in the standard flour and I think we are all aware of the wheat challenge in the country,” he said.
“We would also like to thank the ministry for allowing us to import flour from South Africa to produce for the local and export markets.” [email protected]