Horticulture exporter Ariston reported a 27% decline in revenue for the first quarter ended 31 December 2022 owing to a slump in sales volumes of macadamia, poultry and other products that include potatoes and bananas.
“The decline was attributable to potatoes which were sold in December in prior year whereas in the current year, these were sold in January 2023,” the company said in a trading update.
“Further, timing of poultry placements contributed to the revenue decline and the late season macadamia export in prior year boosted prior year revenue. Overall, these issues are all about differences in timing and will reverse as the year progresses.”
According to the company, the start of the current year’s tea harvesting season was delayed by the dry spell that occurred in October 2022.
“However, this situation was temporary with weather conditions improving from November 2022 onwards. As a result, production levels are on an upward trajectory,” it said.
“In this current year, the Group has increased its focus on improving tea quality so as to grow its export sales volumes as the local economy is expected to continue to face headwinds.”
The company said the change in focus will result in less total tea output than the previous year, but more export grade teas will be produced than the previous year.
“Increased export sales will translate to increased profitability which mitigates against the effect of the low performance of the local market on the Group’s financial well-being. Results on the ground so far, have shown that this strategy will improve overall tea performance,” it said.
The low levels of production are due to the fact that macadamia nut harvesting starts in March.
“The volumes for early drop macadamia nuts were 91% ahead of prior comparative period.”
For the biggest producer in Zimbabwe, poultry is produced using an out-grower model.
“There was a reduction in the number of poultry placements in the current period, thereby resulting in a decline in produced volumes. The reduction was due to the timing of placements,” the company said.
In its outlook, the group expects to focus on maintaining cost-cutting strategies as well as enhancing manufacturing methods and product quality – Harare