Mr Vijay Kumar Bahl

VARUN Beverages Zimbabwe, which operates the Pepsi brand, plans to invest US$150 million in the country in the next five years as it seeks to increase production and expand market share.

Chief operating officer and executive director of Pepsi, Mr Vijay Kumar Bahl, who was in Bulawayo last Friday, said the company has long term plans in the country as witnessed by the US$50 million that the company has invested so far.

“We have invested US$50 million in Zimbabwe and we are still investing more. We have a vision of investing US$150 million in the next five years,” said Mr Bahl.

He said the company has increased its production capacity by 150 percent having started with one production line.

“We started with one production line and we have added capacity by 150 percent more and today we have capacity to produce 36 million bottles in one month.

“We are looking at opportunities of adding more production lines of beverages and cans etc so that we can provide our consumers in Zimbabwe with a complete liquid refreshment beverage,” said Mr Bahl.

Asked if the company has plans to set up an operating plant in Bulawayo, Mr Bahl said they were open for investment anywhere in the country.

“We are looking for opportunities in the next five-six years to do some food processing into any fast moving consumer goods category. So, since we are open for investment in Zimbabwe, the geography does not matter, we are open to any strategic location which offers us opportunities,” he said.

Mr Bahl said the company was also trying to indigenise so as to assist the country in trimming on imports.

“We are trying to indigenise as much as we can.

“We used to import pre-form for the bottles, which required more forex but we have now done backward integration using husky plant, which requires us to only get raisins. So, in terms of value chain we are making innovation progress and we are optimistic about reforms done by Government and we are hopeful that in the future things will improve,” he said.Chronicle