Interfresh profit up 839 percent

A $210 million investment into Interfresh in 2001 is beginning to pay off. The company made a net profit of $1.6 billion last year an increase of 839 percent from the previous year when net profit was $166.5 million.

Sales increased by 220 percent from $3.6 billion to $11.6 billion with operating profit at $2.3 billion, up from $327.5 million.

In its report for the year ending December, the company says the contribution from Mazoe Citrus Estates was very significant as it had gone through trying times because of the government's land reform.

It says a further 100 hectares of citrus will be planted this year. In its quarterly report for March, the company says 80 percent of the estates remains listed for acquisition.

The Estates are currently being hampered by a shortage of water which if not properly managed could affect the viability of the estates.

Lime exports were down due to late rains. Over 600 tonnes of potatoes were grown for the first time.

There was an increase in orange juice which should have a positive impact in the second and third quarters.

Mazoe Flowers had also done well with 20 hectares under roses. The first 10 hectares of a 20-hectare Hypericum project was underway.

The project called Smithfield Flowers is a joint venture with Netherland Floricultural Investments and all flowers are for export.

According to the first quarter report for this year flower volumes were up 15 percent, with over 9.2 million stems being exported. Volumes were hampered by late and incessant rains.

Smithfield Flowers is expected to start exports in the third quarter of this year. Over one million cartons of citrus were exported through Interspan and Transfruit.

The company, however, says exports should decline by 20 percent this year because of disruptions caused by the current agrarian reform.

But it hopes to restore the volumes by next year following the acquisition of Highveld Horticulture, a citrus packhouse in Mvurwi, and the establishment of Citrifresh Exports.

According to the first quarter report, Citrifresh had already exported 22 000 cartons directly into UK supermarkets.

Interfoods was being hampered by lack of raw materials but had already started exports to Zambia and South Africa. Its volumes had increased by 25 percent, year on year, by the first quarter.

Outgrower programmes in Mashonaland East were expected to provide critical mass in the second and third quarters.

Wholesale Fruiters and Marlon Trading continue to dominate local markets with demand exceeding supply.

Sales grew by 400 percent. Marlon is dogged by lack of supply of raw materials, price controls and import restrictions.

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