ZIMBABWE – Agro-processing concern United Refineries has pushed capacity utilisation to 80% and resumed exports following government’s imposition of punitive levies on cooking oil imports, an official has said.

Company chief executive officer Busisa Moyo told NewsDay in an emailed response that the company was poised for growth and was now producing 3 million litres of oil per month.

“The industry now produces 12 million litres of cooking oil versus 4,5 million litres per month,” Moyo said.

“United Refineries alone produces 3 million litres of oil per month and is at 80% capacity.

We are planning to expand capacity to 4 million by June 2016. We are exporting cotton meal to South Africa and now our new bath soaps are being earmarked for Mozambique and Angola.”

United Refineries is the second largest cooking oil refinery in Zimbabwe and has a refining capacity of 8 000 metric tonnes of oil seeds per month.

The company is on a recovery path after securing credit last year to refurbish machinery at its Bulawayo factory and reviving production of several brands.

Some of the product lines back in production since last year include the cooking oil lines as well as toiletries such as Bath & Basin, Vogue, Image, Olive and Fresh Health Joy.

Recently Moyo, who is also Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries president, revealed that Zimbabwe’s cooking oil producers would be able to meet the country’s demand for edible oils by September this year as capacity utilisation in the sector was improving after government imposed punitive levies on imports.

Government recently removed the travellers rebate on grocery items, saying there was no justification for their continued import since the local industry was producing such goods. For cooking oil, it raised customs duty to 40% and a 25% surtax or $0,50 per litre, whichever is higher.

Zimbabwe has four oil producing firms — ETG Parrogate, Olivine, Surface Investments and United Refineries.

December 31, 2015; https://www.newsday.co.zw/2015/12/31/united-refineries-capacity-up-80-resumes-exports/