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Ariston Moves to Improve Macadamia Exports Quality

Diversified agro-industrial concern, Ariston Holdings (Ariston) is focusing on improving quality of macadamia nuts for the export market as part of a broader strategy to fetch higher prices amid group extended losses.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) -listed group is banking on improved global prices for the macadamia nuts to overturn its loss position of ZW$ $33,06 billion for the year ended September 30, 2023, from a 2022 comparative loss of ZW$5,94 billion.

“The Group acquired a macadamia scanning machine, which allows for the scanning of nut-in-shell macadamia nuts to determine their quality before export. This will enable the Group to determine nut quality and defects and assists in pricing the macadamia nuts more effectively for export by being able to grade better and guarantee the quality being sold,” the group said in its half year to March 2024 results.

The equipment was commissioned in April 2024 in time for the current year macadamia selling season.

Production volumes for the period at 603 tonnes were 4 percent below the prior comparative period. During the current period, 386 tonnes of macadamia nuts were sold, but all these nuts related to the stocks held at the start of the current year.

No current season macadamia nuts had been sold as at 31 March 2024 as the season commenced in April. In the prior comparative period, no macadamia nuts were sold during the first half of the prior year as sales commenced in the second half of the year.

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During the period, 1,830 tonnes of tea were produced. This was a 14 percent improvement on the prior comparative period’s volume of 1,599 tonnes.

A 6 percent improvement in the average selling price of export tea was noted, however, this was coupled by suppressed export tea demand which resulted in export tea volumes declining by 56 percent.

This resulted in a 53 percent decline in export tea revenue. Local tea demand remained firm as evidenced by a 40 percent increase in local tea sales volumes compared to the prior comparative period. Overall, tea sales revenue ended the period 14 percent below the prior comparative period.

Revenue of US$ 2,4 million generated during the first half of the year was 7 percent below the prior comparative period.

This was mainly attributable to a decline in export tea volumes. The decline in revenue posted, coupled with the 27 percent increase in the cost of production resulted in the group posting a gross loss during the period.

The group posted a loss of US$2,1 million reflecting widespread inefficiencies.

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