BY FIDELITY MHLANGA LISTED entity Ariston says revenue during the nine months ended June 2020 grew by 15% compared to the prior comparative period. “Group’s revenue remains predominantly foreign currency denominated. Revenue for the nine months period to June 30, 2020, grew by 15% in inflation-adjusted terms compared to the prior comparative period,” Ariston said in a trading update. The agriculture concern said a record global tea production, coupled with a glut in sales, negatively affected export tea sales. Consequently, the group has large tea stocks. However, local tea sales have improved as a result of improved marketing strategies on the local market. “Sales of macadamia, fruit, poultry and maize are in line with production levels. Global demand for macadamia has remained very firm, enabling the Group to sell its entire crop,” Ariston said. In terms of production volumes, tea production volumes had surpassed the volumes achieved for the comparative period in 2018 and 2019. “Although there was a decline in overall macadamia yields in the current year compared to the previous two comparative periods, improvement in quality resulted in improved selling prices,” Ariston said. The fruit category comprising bananas, pome fruit and stone fruit showed a decline against the 2019 comparative period arising from lower banana production, which declined from 924 tonnes in 2019 to 661 tonnes in 2020. e and has had declining production volumes, indicative of the disposable income constraints and the impact of the national lockdown in response to COVID-19 in current year which have reduced customer purchases. The operating environment, which was tough during the quarter, is expected to remain challenging for the remainder of the year. “The business operating environment has remained unstable with significant challenges being exerted by the fixed interbank rate creating mismatches between export revenues and local input costs, erratic supply of electricity, disruption in air travel affecting smooth deliveries of export samples and continual erosion of disposable income,” Ariston said.