Schweppes Zimbabwe is looking to invest $35m in a large citrus farm

Schweppes Zimbabwe is looking to invest $35m over the next 10 years in a 2,700ha citrus farm, part of a move to increase local sourcing. The company currently processes 20,000 tonnes of fruit annually, but has capacity to do double that – the shortfall is due to a lack of domestic supply of citrus fruits.

Schweppes Zimbabwe is 49% owned by Delta Beverages and operates under licence from The Coca-Cola Company. Its main products are the Mazoe brand of fruit syrups and cordials. It also produces fruit juices under Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid brand and bottled water under the Bonaqua brand.

In the past decade farmland dedicated for citrus production has decreased from around 10,000ha to between 4,000 and 5,000ha recently. In April 2021 Schweppes Zimbabwe launched a fruit harvesting programme involving 2,000 rural households under its fruit beneficiation programme. It pays those households to go into Zimbabwe’s guava forests to pick guava fruit for processing.

The inability of its Beitbridge Juicing (BBJ) plant to operate at capacity caused by a shortage of domestic fruit has helped contribute to a marginal decline in volume by 1%, in the full year ended March 2021. Shareholder Delta Corporation, which makes beer and carbnated soft drinks, reported a 39% rise in revenue to ZW$ 40.5bn (US$111.7m) in the same period.

Schweppes Zimbabwe is not alone in turning its attention to increasing domestic sourcing, a response to the severe problems food manufacturers face trying to pay for imports. Other large manufacturers, including Innscor and Nestlé Zimbabwe have also sought to reduce dependency on imported raw materials.