SOUTH African company Willowton Group will spend at least $40 million to set up an integrated fast consumer goods plant in Mutare. The group manufacturers a wide range of products which include edible oils, margarines and spreads, toiletries, laundry and bathing soaps, candles, chocolates, and baking and industrial fats. Some of its popular brands on the local market include Sunfoil cooking oil and D’lite cooking oil. “The company expressed interest in setting up a plant and are currently going through the necessary statutory approvals,” Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said.
Willowton acquired premises in Mutare and some of the equipment is being shipped from Germany while the boilers are being assembled by a local firm, said one source. “The plant will be able to produce “close to half a million litres” of edible oils per day,” the source said adding that “D’lite cooking oil will be the main product to be produced at the plant.”Some of the products include candles, waxes, soaps and stockfeeds.
About 100 jobs are expected to be created directly while thousands will be created downstream. “The success of the project depends on the availability of feedstock and the investor intends to establish an out-grower scheme mainly for soya bean,” said the source. Willoton has already applied to the Government to have the project granted the National Project Status. The company has three plants in South Africa in Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Zimbabwe has four main oil expressers, with crushing capacity of 24 000 tonnes of oil seed a month. These are ETG Parrogate, Surface Investments, Olivine and United Refineries. Zimbabwe is currently being supplied mainly by two processors, SurfaceWilmar which is now the largest after it acquired Olivine, and Pure Oil (makers of ZimGold). The country has been spending millions of dollars on cooking oil imports due to limited supplies from the local producers. However, local producers have managed to raise capacity with local output now exceeding domestic demand, Minister Bimha said.
This was after local producers raised capacity while Government came in with measures to restrict imports. Local cooking oil production has increased to 12,1 million litres from 4,5 million litres against domestic demand of 9-10 million litres.