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Zimbabwe's Delta lager sales hit by power, fuel shortages

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s Delta Corporation (DLTA.ZI), the country’s largest drinks maker, reported a 48% fall in half-year lager sales compared with the same period last year after output and distribution were hit by shortages of electricity and fuel.

The worst economic crisis in a decade in Zimbabwe has been compounded by a drought that has reduced water levels in dams needed for hydro-power, leading to 18-hour electricity cuts that are roiling industry and mines.

Delta, which is 40%-owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), the world’s largest brewer, said on Tuesday that shortages of foreign currency meant the company also struggled to import raw materials during the half-year ending September.

“Our production and distribution operations were disrupted by the shortages of electricity and fuel, which in themselves are a manifestation of the limited availability of foreign currency,” said Delta.

The company said it owed $72 million to foreign suppliers.

Sales of carbonated soft drinks were down 56% during the same period, while volumes for the popular and cheaper sorghum beer fell 15%.

After experimenting with dollarization in the last decade, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government surprised the market in June by bringing back a national currency.

The transition from dollarisation to the Zimbabwe dollar has unleashed inflation, which has eroded salaries and savings while the domestic currency continues to weaken against the greenback.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Alex Richardson

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