Natfoods flour mills return to full capacity

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LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

LISTED agro-industrial firm, National Foods Limited’s Harare and Bulawayo flour mills have returned to full capacity after the company procured adequate wheat requirements from Eastern European nations.

The development comes after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe provided over $8 million to the company to import wheat stocks.  NatFoods CEO Mike Lashbrook told Business Times that the company’s operations are going on smoothly despite the serious forex challenges.

“When we had serious wheat shortages a fortnight ago due to forex challenges, the discussions we had with RBZ were very fruitful.  We managed to procure enough wheat stocks for the time being and we are grateful to the central bank.

The company has a monthly wheat requirement of around $8 million of forex .

 Lashbrook said: “We never closed sown our two main flour mills as the central bank managed to avert a potential disastrous situation.

The company is in the process of resuscitating its long term arrangements with foreign wheat suppliers to ensure continuous supply of wheat

Currently, NatFoods has enough wheat supplies till next year March from its foreign suppliers.

The country is in a very precarious position as far as wheat supplies are concerned as millers under their body Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe have a consignment of 30 000 tonnes of wheat meant for baking flour currently stuck at Beira, Mozambique, after they failed to access $12,2 million of forex from the Reserve RBZ to pay for the grain.

 Wheat imports are expected to go down in the next eight months but the country will continue to import wheat as the country’s cereal is not suitable for bread making and needs to be blended with foreign wheat to make bread.

Most bakeries are now using 50:50 percent ratios to make bread as the foreign currency crunch continues to affect their operations.