The country's largest food manufacturer -- National Foods Holdings Limited (Natfoods) says financial year 2020 first quarter performance showed improvement against same period last year as well as against the last quarter of 2020.
According to a trading update for the first quarter to September 30, 2020 by parent company -- Innscor, Natfoods' overall volumes closed 15 percent ahead of same quarter last year.
The easing of lockdown restrictions coupled with improved foreign currency exchange rate helped create a more stable operating environment.
The quarter under review saw the country gradually relax Covid-19 induced lockdown restrictions thus increasing trading hours for businesses.
"The trading environment for the quarter under review was underpinned by improved business and consumer confidence arising from a relatively stable local currency, a significant decline in local inflation and the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. "These factors combined to result in a trading-oriented focus for the Group, with solid volume growth being registered across most of the group's product categories.
"First quarter volumes at Natfoods closed 15 percent higher than the comparative quarter, and also showed continued growth against Quarter Four of FY2020," said the group in a trading update for the quarter.
According to the group, the flour division recorded a 43 percent growth in volumes against the comparative quarter, driven by an improved wheat supply, firmer demand from the pre-pack category and the general adoption of open-market policies.
The maize division recorded a volume decline of 35 percent against the comparative quarter.
The gradual removal of subsidies was a key volume determinant, coupled with a larger than expected regional maize crop and competitively priced imported maize meal affecting the local informal market dynamics.
However, the stockfeeds division continued to show favourable growth as market demand recovered.
This allowed for enhanced pricing strategies and a focus on product quality. As such, the division achieved a 26 percent growth in volume versus the comparative quarter.
The grocery and snacks divisions both produced strong volume growth, a function of market and pricing stability, capacity enhancements, and a continuation of new products being introduced to the portfolio.
Volumes in the groceries division grew by 76 percent over the comparative quarter, whilst in the snacks division volume growth of 21 percent was recorded.
Established in 1920, Natfoods grew to become the country's biggest food manufacturer producing a range of basic food stuffs such as maize meal, flour, cooking oil, margarine, rice, salt, pasta, snapbacks, sugar beans as well as same of animal feed and soap.