MILK processing company Dairibord Zimbabwe (Ltd) has kick-started its milk supply development programme by importing 250 heifers to augment the national dairy herd.
The group has taken delivery of the heifers, which have been allocated to 10 farmers across the provinces.
Dairibord’s move follows a similar one by Nestle Zimbabwe that saw the Swiss-based multinational company investing US$14 million into the importation of 2 000 heifers.
National milk supply remains low against demand but players in the dairy industry believe it is government’s responsibility to promote it.
Zimbabwe has the highest producer price for milk in the world at between 55-59 US cents a litre against 35-39 US cents a litre in South Africa, 18-20 US cents in Uganda, 28 US cents in Kenya, 22 US cents in US and 14-21 US cents in New Zealand.
At its last analysts’ briefing in the first quarter this year, Dairibord CEO Antony Mandiwanza said the group would commence the heifer importation scheme and would develop relationships with the dairy co-operatives. Mandiwanza also said they were looking at joint ventures on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
Dairibord has budgeted capital expenditure of US$10 million, which is targeted at increasing production capacity for value added products, increasing production capacity for value-added products, enhancing distribution capacity and efficiencies and for the investment of cold chain facilities (refrigerators and cold rooms) to support product distribution as well as milk supply development.
The group expects volumes to grow by 20% at the end of this financial year while revenue is projected to increase 23%. Raw milk intake to the group is expected to grow by 6% (NADF national forecast is at 5%). However, the importation of milk powders to augment milk supply is expected to continue in the short- to-medium-term.
Meanwhile Dairibord has launched the soy milk range as a way of capturing the lactose intolerant market. The milk comes in packets of 250 ml and 1 litre at a price range of between 50 US cents and US$2,19 respectively.
The group has also introduced smaller Cascade packaging (400 ml) as a way of reducing costs without effecting a price increase. The new bottle sells at 50 US cents. Mandiwanza said the move was part of efforts by the group to promote its ‘Snack on the Go’ concept. He said the group had conducted research into the move and consumers were all agreed that the smaller packaging would be good for someone on the go.