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Government Commends National Foods for Reducing Reliance on Imports

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The government has praised National Foods Limited (NatFoods) for its investments in projects aimed at reducing the country’s high import expenses.

NatFoods has allocated nearly US$16 million to various factory production lines between 2023 and 2024, a move expected to significantly contribute to import substitution efforts.

Recent statistics indicate a 12 percent increase in imports, totaling US$1.41 billion in the first two months of 2024 compared to US$1.26 billion during the same period in 2023, resulting in a trade deficit of US$234 million.

NatFoods‘ investments include a US$4.4 million cereal extrusion plant, a US$6 million replacement of a flour milling plant in Bulawayo, and the establishment of a pasta line costing US$5.6 million. Zimbabwe currently imports approximately US$40 million worth of pasta annually, a gap that NatFoods aims to bridge through local production.

The company’s pasta plant currently produces around 1,200 tonnes per month, satisfying only a portion of the national demand of approximately 3,500 tonnes. Additionally, National Foods plans to address the influx of biscuits from South Africa and Zambia by commissioning a biscuit line later this month.

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Import substitution is a focal point in the National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025), as Zimbabwe aims to transform its economy by increasing the production of value-added manufactured goods.

Also read: Government to Crack Down on Illegal Money Changers Manipulating Zimbabwe Gold Currency

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mangaliso Ndlovu, commended NatFoods during a tour of their facility, highlighting the government’s support for import substitution initiatives.

NatFoods CEO, Michael Lashbrook, reiterated the company’s commitment to reducing the importation of essential food items. He emphasized the potential for local production to meet national demand and even consider exports, particularly in products like pasta and biscuits, where Zimbabwe currently relies heavily on imports despite being self-sufficient in wheat production.

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