Inflationary pressures and low disposable incomes negatively impacted Ariston Holdings' performance. Revenues fell 19 percent in the first quarter to December 31, 2021. The group recorded contraction in tea sales volumes, a development Ariston blamed on a decline in the volumes absorbed by export markets.
According to allafrica.com, the downturn was triggered by a downcast global economic activity emanating from the pandemic and a global shortage of shipping containers. This saw the local market consuming 83 percent of Ariston's tea. Coupled with the absence of pome and stone fruits in the product portfolio, the agriculture concern's revenue retreated 19 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period.
Ariston funds new tech due to labor shortages
Despite the above, Ariston Holdings has injected funds in technology to improve production as the shortage of manpower hits its estates. The company is facing serious farm labor shortages as potential employees opt to venture into the lucrative illegal gold mining than work on the estates. In a trading update for the first quarter ended December 31, 2021, and released Monday, Ariston said the company had instead opted for automation.
Last year, Ariston sold Claremont Orchads Holdings for US$2 million after selling 50% of its shareholding in the company to the Netherlands-based Tuinbouw Zonder Grenzen BV.
According to the company's secretary Acquiline Chinamo, part of the funding of the new technology purchased was from the proceeds from Charemont Orchards Holdings in Nyanga, Manicaland province.