HARARE – National Foods says substantial maize imports will be required to augment the recently concluded harvest which was impacted by a second successive drought.

Zimbabwe is still recovering from the shocks of El-Nino induced droughts which characterised the past three cropping seasons resulting in crop failure, livestock and wildlife deaths.

On a monthly basis the local milling industry requires about 83 000 tonnes of maize while it costs an average of US$250 to import a tonne of maize from South America (Brazil and Argentina).

“The group has recently commenced maize imports in preparation for expected demand in the December to April period,” the company said in its quarter trading update covering July 2020 to September 2020.

On a three-month cumulative basis, volumes at 115 000MT were 15% above prior year and 4% ahead of the previous period. Volumes in the Maize division were disappointing and excluding Maize volumes grew 42% on prior year and 30% on the previous period.

“Prices stabilised as a result of the above, in turn driving an encouraging improvement in volumes, which increased by 15% compared to prior year and 4% compared to the previous period. Volume performance was also driven by the progressive easing of the Covid-19 lockdown measures.”

The wheat harvest is currently underway, and again the group has continued with its wheat importation program to compliment supplies from the local crop.

Whilst the stability enabled greater opportunity to focus on day to day trade rather than balance sheet preservation, the company said, working capital management remained a key area of focus for management in view of the constrained Zimbabwe Dollar liquidity.

In the outlook, the company said: “Raw material pipelines remain in a healthy position across the group’s operating units and we will continue to drive volume and market share growth in the periods ahead.”

Falton Zveushe – Business Mail