VARUN Beverages Zimbabwe, a franchise of PepsiCo, yesterday commissioned a US$12 million packaged drinking water line with a production capacity of 15 million bottles a month.
Ravi Japuria, the chairman of Varun Beverages, at the official launch of the plant by President Mnangagwa, said the new line is part of the 3rd phase of investment that will bring total production capacity to 66 million bottles of sparkling beverages, cans and bottled water.
“We are happy to announce the 3rd phase of investment by launching the packaged drinking water Aquaclear production line with an additional capacity of 15 million units of bottled water in a month,” he said.
Varun Beverages officially commissioned its first plant in Zimbabwe in February 2018 with the line having an initial capacity to produce 15 million bottles a month.
By 2019, the company had added two more production lines, enhancing the capacity to 51 million bottles per month of carbonated beverage, and as part of the second phase of its expansion initiative, added three Husky production lines to produce 510 million pieces of preforms a year from Virgin resin as backward integration.
Japuria said the new line lays the foundation stone of fourth phase of Varun Beverages investment in The Plastic closure plant with an annual capacity of 500 million pieces.
“In addition to the above closure project, a new carbonated beverage production line will be installed with an additional capacity of 18 million bottles per month, which will be in operation by May 2022.
“This new additional capacity will boost up the total production capacity of the plant to produce one billion bottles a year,” he said.
Japuria said with the new expansion, the company will increase export of beverages, preforms and plastic closures to Zambia, DRC, Botswana, Malawi and other neighbouring countries which will bring in sizeable foreign exchange into Zimbabwe.
“We promised that no external or internal factors will ever be able to derail us from the path of responsible enviro-socio-economic business practices,” he said.
He added that with the future revenue and profits generated from the sale of existing range of products, the company is looking at new avenues of fresh investment in FMCG products like juices and dairy.
“Through our parent company RJcorp, we are exploring other highly diversified fields like Education, healthcare and hospitality,” Japuria said.
He indicated that the company will strive to identify new and better ways of doing business so that processes become more efficient and productive to the local market it operates within.
“The last three and half years journey in Zimbabwe has been excellent with our go to market system, affordable price and continuous supply enabled delivery of Pepsi products at the doorstep of retailers in nervy small villages and large cities in Zimbabwe,” he said.
He added that Varun beverages has invested a large sum of money in the retail market by deploying free electronic coolers, Plastic ice chests and branded push carts.
Japuria said the company has direct employment of over 2000 local Zimbabweans, distributes, and its employees and transporters amount to 3500 people as indirect employment.
Vijay Khanduja, the Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, at the event said the Varun beverages investment stems out of strong bi-lateral relationship between Zimbabwe and India.
He said Indian investments in Zimbabwe currently amount to over US$500 million in different sectors of the economy.