Cairns Foods to invest millions in agro processing

…commissions new baked beans packaging plant.

Cairns Foods, a subsidiary of Cairns Holdings will receive capital injection to improve capacity utilization as the firm embarks on a massive resuscitation exercise.

Preluded by the re-launch of the baked beans out-growers scheme in Chimanimani recently, the resuscitation drive has seen Cairns Foods commissioning a state of the art packing plant at its Mutare processing site.

Chief Executive Officer Nancy Guzha told 263Chat on the sidelines of the launch that the firm had an approved apex budget of 2.7 million for re-investment, with Manicaland province set to benefit from the fund.

“We have an approved apex budget of around $2.7 million for this year and of that just under a million will be invested here in Mutare while the rest will go towards refurbishing our other plants in Harare and Marondera,” she said.

Guzha said commissioning of the automated packaging plant, set to increase capacity utilization from the current 15% to around 80%, was a demonstration of the firm’s commitment to improve their productivity.

“The plant we are commissioning today will allow us to increase our capacity utilization by fivefold,” she said.

She said the plant worth hundreds of thousands had been acquired from China through the $1 million envelope extended to the company under the Distressed Industries and Marginalized Areas Fund (DIMAF).

“Overall the expenditure of setting up this plant is over $350 000, with around $257 000 going directly towards purchasing the plant and the other being overhead expenditures, which came from the $1 million we received from DIMAF,” she said.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Mike Bimha, who officially opened the packaging plant, lauded Cairns for defying the odds by rebounding from judicial management to significant viability and improved capacity utilization.

He challenged local manufacturers to produce quality goods to enable government to chip in with protection measure to sustain struggling industry.

“It is pleasing to note that notwithstanding challenges that have caused unprecedented de industrialization in Zimbabwe, Cairns has shown remarkable resilience.

“Their capacity utilization has since increased from 7% in 2012 to 15% and employment has also risen from 50 workers in 2012 to 150 as at December 2015.

“The opening of the plant is expected to revive and enhance activities at the farm level and other downstream and upstream operations,” he said.

Adding that, “What Cairns have done is a demonstration of confidence and a lot of determination and commitment to become a key player in the revival of the agro processing sector.”

Its expected impact will be significant as it can process 3 000 tons of dry beans requiring an average of 300 hectares and impacting more than 12 500 households directly.

At full capacity the plant produces 105 600 units per 24 hour shift (8 800 cases x12 a day) over 3 million units per month and 38 million units per annum.