Blue Ribbon Foods on rebound

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TANZANIAN diversified company, Bakhresa Group, is increasing its investments in the country, targeting the various sectors of the economy including the media industry.
The group which acquired Blue Ribbon Foods (BRF) in 2015 and has since then pumped in more than US$20 million to jolt production has made another US$2 million investment in a state-of-the-art milling plant expected to revamp the country’s grain value chains.
Bakhresa, which has operations in Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda and Seychelles has also set its eye on the country’s media space.
Speaking to The Patriot, Yusuk Kamau, general manager projects and marketing said the investment in the milling plant is expected to increase efficiency.
“We have not been operating efficiently but now with this investment, it means we will be more efficient with the capacity to produce 90 000 tonnes a year. The rest of the equipment is currently on the way and will be installed by July this year,” said Kamau.
Prior to attracting the attention of Bakhresa, the milling and food processing firm, made up of five divisions BRI logistics, Blue Ribbon Foods, JA Mitchells and Nutresco Foods, had been placed under judiciary management to facilitate revival of operations.
The company, with plants in Harare and Bulawayo, was severely affected by the economic meltdown induced by the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by Britain and her allies.
Coupled with failure to access cheaper financing, low production levels and export capacity crippled the company.
However, the acquisition of the company by the Tanzanian firm has steadied the ship.
And efforts are ongoing to restore the company to yesteryear glory and make it again one of the leading food processors in the country.
Increasing capacity utilisation of the milling plant will assure a ready market for local grain producers.
Meanwhile, the group plans to set up a ‘massive’ carbonated soft drink business in the country.
Bakhresa is currently engaging the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development to be allocated land to set up the plant to manufacture the soft drinks.
The diversified group is also working on setting up a television station, with negotiations with the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting ongoing.
The group has said the pay tv called Azam Media is ready to commence once approval to set up is given.
Plans to resuscitate other non-operational business units like the Aroma and J.A. Mitchell Bakeries, which were under the former Blue Ribbon Industries’ flagship are afoot.
To garner local confidence and display its seriousness in the country, the group has extended an invitation to the Minister of Industry to tour the company’s various Tanzanian Business units.
Meanwhile, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe has availed a US$5 million loan facility for small grain millers and bakeries.
Media and public relations manager Garikai Chaunza said the association, which has procured all the wheat under the Command Agriculture programme, would invest in the renovation of the country’s silos.
He said GMAZ awaited an audited report from Grain Marketing Board before it can invest in the renovation of silos which are in a dilapidated state.
“Following a tour of the country’s silos last year, where we were told that of the 12 silos in the country only two were in good shape, GMAZ gave US$8 million to the Grain Marketing Board for the renovation of the silos,” said Chaunza.
“We will further invest another US$35 million to ensure that other silos are renovated but we need accountability from the GMB before that funding can be released. We are waiting for an audit from GMB.”
Chaunza added that the loan facility by GMAZ would help revive the milling industry.
“This loan facility is available to the small grain millers and not the big players because we realised that most of the small millers have no capital and have been facing challenges in running their businesses. The bank will assess their capacity to repay the loan,” said Chaunza.
Opening new (and resuscitation the old) bakeries is expected to ease pressure on an industry currently dominated by Bakers Inn, Lobels, Proton and Innscor.
Capacitating small-scale bakeries is expected to bring the cost of bread down.

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