Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Pepsi boss bemoans forex shortages

By Ndakaziva Majaka

Zimbabwe needs to fix its foreign exchange shortage if it is to attract more investment, RJ Corporation chairperson Ravi Jaipuria said. RJ Corporation owns Varun Beverages which in turn holds the PepsiCo licence in Zimbabwe.

Varun Beverages is a distributor of PepsiCo products
Varun Beverages is a distributor of PepsiCo products

He told journalists that while his group was not in a hurry to repatriate, investors needed the certainty of fund repatriation in an investment destination.

“The forex availability issue remains an issue. Investors can’t set up without certainty they will be able to repatriate.

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“Of course, we are very confident in the country and will continue investing, but the forex issue needs to be addressed,” he said.

This comes as Varun Beverages corporate affairs manager Fungai Murahwa recently said the group’s plant ended up costing $40 million instead of a planned $30 million on the back of forex shortages.

The country has been battling a foreign exchange shortage which has escalated into a debilitating cash shortage for locals and companies now sourcing for cash on the parallel market at huge premiums

The Indian soft drinks manufacturer, Varun Beverages, is eyeing regional soft drink exports following commissioning of its $30 million Pepsi bottling plant in the capital.

Jaipuria yesterday said the plant, equipped with a 600-bottle-per-minute production line and ultra-modern 400-cans-per-minute filling line, was anticipated to spur the group into the regional market.

“We will soon start exports to Zambia, Botswana and other neighbouring countries…

“Ultimately, we will also start on an agricultural upliftment programme which will see us exporting potato fries into the region,” Jaipuria said.

Speaking at the same function, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government was going to look into offering more incentives to investors. “I noticed minister Chinamasa is here… I asked him what he is doing here. I was telling him he should give more incentives to investors like tax breaks,” Mnangagwa said.

In spite of yesterday’s commissioning, the plant will be built in phases, totalling four on completion. This will see an increase of Pepsi-branded soft drinks and other brands.

PepsiCo started operations early this year after completing the fist phase early this year with three phases to follow. Phase two is expected to be completed by September this year.

On completion, the PepsiCo plant is projected to create at least 400 jobs and another 2 600 downstream.