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Mugabe set to challenge Nestlé in Zimbabwean dairy market

By Mark Astley , 05-Jul-2012

The wife of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has launched a range of fresh milk products in the African country with the aim of challenging Nestlé – a dominant figure in the country’s dairy industry.

According to reports from Zimbabwe, supermarket chains across the country have begun selling pints of fresh and sour milk from First Lady Grace Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy Estate in Mazowe under the family’s Alpha Omega brand.

Powdered milk, ice cream and other dairy products – all developed at the Gushungo site – will be marketed in Zimbabwe in the near future, added the New Zimbabwe news website.

The website called the product launch a “brazen challenge to Swiss food conglomerate, Nestlé.”

Zimbabwean presence 

Nestlé, which has been present in Zimbabwe for more than 50 years, operates a factory in the country’s capital Harare – producing a number of products including milk powder.

In 2009, the Switzerland-based firm announced that it would end its purchase of milk from the Mugabe-owned Gushungo estate after it faced questions about its relationship with the estate and its infamous owners.

It later came under pressure from rights activists, who threatened a boycott of its products. As a result, it ended its association with the farm.

Until that time, the estate - which was built on a farm seized from a white farmer - provided between 10-15% of the firm’s raw milk supply.

Facility upgrade

In preparation for the launch, Grace Mugabe commissioned a major upgrade of facilities at the Gushungo Dairy Estate, with plans to boost production to around 8,000 litres of milk per day through its herd of 1,300 cattle.

DairyReporter.com attempted to contact Mrs Mugabe through the country’s Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity – as directed by another government ministry - but was unable to establish contact with the department.

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