ZIMBABWE's processed food sector has recorded 17.9 % export growth amid calls by the country's export development agency, ZimTrade for local players to take advantage of abundant opportunities in the segment.
The country already enjoys favourable trade and or political relations with most of the top importers of the products and this can be used as the basis for increasing exports of processed foods to the market.
Processed products like bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other bakers' wares; wine of fresh grapes, alcohol, spirits and liquors are already available in the country.
"This is one sector that has seen steady growth in exports over the past few years, recording a 17.96 % growth, from US$98 million in 2019 to US$115 million in 2020, up from US$71.2 million in exports recorded in 2018.
"This is indicative of the potential that the sector has to national exports, considering that Zimbabwe-produced processed foods are reputable for high quality across the world," ZimTrade said.
The remarks come at a time when the government has since launched the National Development Strategy 1 which intends to leverage on the country's competitive advantages particularly with regards to the configuration of natural resource endowment, good climatic conditions and ecological endowment, and skills base for productivity growth.
"The starting focus will be on enhancing food processing subsectors that the country has comparative advantages that have high export potential such as sugar, coffee/tea, fruit concentrates and fish and aquatic products," ZimTrade said.
The trade agency said as production is enhanced, local businesses have a huge potential to competitively supply processed foods to regional markets such as Zambia, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi, riding on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
The kicking in of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), has also been singled out as having potential to boost the size of the market that local enterprises can access at low tariffs has even ballooned.
Further to this, ZimTrade said the general price stability on the world market creates market opportunities for exports and hence contribute to enterprise development and employment creation.
If achieved, the growth in the sector's exports will also have a positive spin off effects on the agriculture sector, which is the backbone of the processed food sector.