NATIONAL Foods Limited, manufacturers and marketer of food products, achieved a new record last week when it produced 2 200 tonnes of maize meal in three days to meet consumer demand.
This record was reached in the aftermath of the #shutdown protests as Bulawayo residents jostled to restock after most shops in western suburbs were looted and vandalised.
Supermarkets in the Central Business District (CBD) partially opened their doors to the public last Thursday resulting in long winding queues.
National Foods Regional Sales Executive, Phawulani Ngwenya said the company had never supplied this amount of maize meal in such a short space of time.
Ngwenya was speaking during a tour of the company organised by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Tuesday.
“From Thursday to Saturday last week, we supplied 2 200 tonnes of maize meal to Bulawayo and the Matabeleland region. This has been the highest amount of tonnage we as National Foods has ever supplied in a short period of time,” he said.
The regional sales executive said 60 percent of the 2 200 tonnes was supplied to Bulawayo consumers and the rest to surrounding areas.
“We broke our personal record, something we haven’t done within a space of such a short period”.
National Foods presently produces between 250 tonnes and 300 tonnes of mealie-meal a day.
It has four silos with capacity of 4 000 tonnes while it receives 1 000 tonnes from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Other milling companies that were toured included Sunset Marketing, Blue Ram and Blue Ribbon who assured residents they had enough maize meal stocks for the whole city.
Blue Ribbon produced 30 tonnes of mealie-meal an hour while Blue Ram and Sunset Marketing which are indigenous millers produce an average of 70 tonnes and 50 tonnes a day respectively.
Blue Ram Chief Executive Officer, Masimba Dzomba, confirmed that demand for mealie meal had risen in the last week due to increased uptake by consumers.
Dzomba also said that besides shortage of fuel which was affecting delivery of maize from GMB, the price of packaging was another challenge.
“We buy packaging at 70cents for a 1okg of bag from the Zimbabwe Grain Bag. If the price of packaging goes down, mealie meal prices would also reduce,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has come on board to deliver maize from GMB to National Foods and Blue Ribbon, as they have rail tracks in their companies that run to their granaries.
This development will also alleviate fuel shortages since the trucks that transported the maize from GMB have no fuel.
Blue Ribbon’s Milling Technician, Taurai Ndaubvonga said NRZ had chipped in to start transporting maize from GMB to their granaries.
“NRZ is preparing their railway lines and clearing the tracks that we have inside our premises. Rail was used a long time ago and we are reverting back, besides the train is cheaper than road. The NRZ workers have started slashing grass and cleaning tracks to avoid derailment. We were told the workers would be done clearing the tracks by Wednesday then they start delivering the maize,” he said.