BY SHAME MAKOSHORI
ZIMBABWE’S fastest growing beverages maker, Varun Beverages announced a massive expansion strategy on Wednesday, as it commissioned a US$12 million water bottling plant at its Harare operation.
Varun is holds the Pepsico franchise in Zimbabwe.
The new 400 bottle – per minute line brought the firm’s cumulative investment in Zimbabwe to US$66 million, according to its billionaire Indian chairman, Ravi Jaipuria who spoke exclusively to NewsDay Business after commissioning the line.
He said the operation, which produced its first soft drinks in 2018, had been overwhelmed by domestic demand and present capacity was struggling to satisfy the local market.
Jaipuria implored President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to release an additional ten hectares of land to help the firm scale up its expansion drive as it explores export opportunities in a string of southern African markets.
“We are looking at new avenues of expansion, and we are increasing our exports to Zambia, Malawi and the DRC. That is why you have seen the minister of industry from the DRC is here,” Jaipuria told NewsDay Business.
“We request the government to allocate an additional ten hectares in an around Harare because the present space here is no longer enough. This is now the third phase of our investment carried out by launching the packaged drinking water named Aquaclear. The production capacity of this line will be 15 million bottles per month. With this third phase, of investment the total production capacity will be 66 million bottles of spackling beverages, cans and bottled water per month. The total investment with the completion of the third phase is almost US$66 million,” he said.
Varun employs about 2 000 direct jobs in Zimbabwe, in addition to over 1 500 workers in downstream industries.
Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was ready to address challenges phased by investors like Varun.
He implored the firm to inform other investors in India that Zimbabwe was ready to embrace them under its new strategy to transform into an African force.
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