Michael Tome Business Reporter
THE value of processed food exports dropped by 48 percent to US$59,1 million in 2021 from US$116 million recorded in the same segment in 2020, official figures show.
The decline has been mainly attributed to constraints encountered by a number of business entities in exporting their products due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
National trade development and promotion body, ZimTrade said the major decline in processed food exports was seen in sugar, which plummeted by 79,3 percent to US$15,6 million in 2021 from US$75,5 million in 2020.
However, the 2021 sugar value chain analysis report indicates that if sugar productivity challenges are addressed there is potential for the country to export more as locally produced sugar would become more competitive.
Aquaculture exports also retreated by 76 percent during the period under review to US$0,7 million while livestock and livestock products exports slowed by 39 percent to US$2,3 million.
“The decrease can be attributed to the difficulties that the exporters of fish have been facing due to Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the cold chain supplies and most Asian countries have restricted access to markets for the exporters of meat,” said ZimTrade in its February issue.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the global regulatory environment for services trade became more restrictive with new barriers compounding the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic on exporters.
Covid-19 disrupted trade and normal operation of businesses leading mainly to the closure of hotels and restaurant operations across the globe and restricting the general uptake of food products as the sector is a leading consumer of processed food.
Also, during the 2021 the value of hides and skins exports slightly declined by 2,7 percent to US$28,7 million from US$29,6 million in the prior year.
The decrease was mainly recorded in exports of raw hides and skins, fresh or preserved, not tanned, which recorded US$28,6 million in 2021 from US$29,4 million.
Generally, according to the latest statistics, Zimbabwe’s exports between January-December 2021 grew by 37, 3 percent to close the year at US$6,03 billion compared to USS$4,39 billion recorded in the same period in 2020.
The US$6 billion mark, breached by local exports for a single year, is the highest in years and exceeds the 10 percent growth target espoused in the National Export Strategy.
The growth in exports resonates with the endeavours of the National Development Strategy, which was launched to focus on promoting export products and export markets diversification.