BY CORNELIUS PHIRI
Food manufacturer, Associated Foods of Zimbabwe (AFZ), has pumped about US$1,5 million into production plant for baked beans under its growing Mama’s brand.
The entry of Mama’s Baked Beans into the market comes after the company invested more than $2 million last year in another plant for peanut butter production.
“The introduction of Mama’s Baked Beans follows extensive research into product development to ensure we bring a product that suits the market. Mama’s Baked Beans is joining a growing brand which includes Mama’s Peanut Butter and Mama’s Sweet Orange Marmalade,” said AFZ CEO Simba Nyabadza.
The company has entered the Michigan Pea Bean market, which currently has very few players after some international brands exited the sector.
Mama’s Baked Beans will be produced from AFZ’S factory in Vumba, where the new plant has since been installed.
The first batch of Mama’s Baked Beans is expected in the market this week.
AFZ sales and marketing executive Mercy Kunaka said: “We are very excited with the introduction of the baked beans silo. This just reaffirms that our Mama’s brand is growing from strength to strength.
AFZ was established in 2016 as a result of a merger between Zimbabwe’s leading producer of jams, Honeywood Enterprises Ltd, and leading producer of peanut butter, Spread Valley Ltd.
AFZ is riding on its growing status built on a relationship with the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund).
Norfund last year committed to a US$2 million secured and convertible loan to AFZ to facilitate the purchasing of the manufacturing plant in Vumba.
The jam and peanut butter production has become more efficient as operations are at the same place.
At the time of the release of the US$2 million facility, Norfund said that the investment would contribute to supporting the local food processing sector in Zimbabwe and replace imports with local produce.
One of the strategies was to expand on AFZ’s local raw material sourcing via out-grower schemes. This would result in increased employment throughout the agribusiness value chain in Zimbabwe — from small-holder farmers to the consumer.
Production at AFZ is under director Rob Harden Tebb’s, who has over 50 years’ experience in food manufacturing gained in Europe and Zimbabwe under his name.
Operations manager Joseph Mavu has 25 years of experience with leading Zimbabwean food manufacturers.