US$5m margarine plant takes shape

Willowton Zimbabwe
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LEADING producer of edible oil and soaps, Willowton Group Zimbabwe has answered Government’s import substitution call by investing in a US$5 million margarine plant that is expected to be commissioned in the second half of the year.

The plant, which is being set up in the Nyakamete Industrial Area of Mutare, is almost 85 complete.

Once complete, it is expected to produce up to 150 tonnes of margarine per day.

The project is part of Government’s priority projects for the first 100-day cycle of 2023.

The game changing project commenced in mid-2022 as part of the company’s expansion into new lines of business.
Following the commissioning of its US$40 million refinery plant by President Mnangagwa in 2018 in response to Government’s drive to promote local production and beneficiation, the manufacturers of D’lite cooking oil, Sun cooking oil, BriteLite soap and Sona beauty soap have continued growing from strength to strength.

The new baby on the market, the margarine plant, is expected to create more jobs for locals.

The company’s managing director, Mr Suleman Darsot said: “Willowton Group Zimbabwe embarked on its margarine project in mid-2022, with the plan to have bakers fat and margarine all produced locally.

“We had many setbacks due to equipment and machinery delays in South Africa as a result of backlogs from Covid-19 lockdowns. However, we are anticipating to have this plant ready and commissioned in the second half of this year.
“Our aim since we entered Zimbabwe was always to match our parent company in South Africa to produce all the major lines in Zimbabwe, with margarine being at the top of that list. It was just a matter of when,” said Mr Darsot.

As part of ensuring that Zimbabwe attains Vision 2030, Willowton Group Zimbabwe, which has so far invested US$50 million in the country since 2016 and employs more than 200 locals has plans to venture into soya bean crushing.

“We have plans to also set-up a soyabean crushing plant, as well as mayonnaise and peanut butter packing. All these future projects fit in very well with Government’s Vision 2030.

“With a soya bean crushing plant in Mutare, surrounding farmers will all benefit with a guaranteed off-take on their soya bean.
“They will have a ready market and that will reduce their transport costs as they will no longer have to take their produce to markets outside Manicaland Province.
“To date, Willowton Group Zimbabwe has invested over US$50m in the country and it employs over 200 locals. With our future expansions, these numbers will also increase,” said Mr Darsot.

The company’s vision dovetails with President Mnangagwa’s call for value addition and beneficiation of local raw materials.
Speaking while commissioning Willowtown Group Zimbabwe’s US$40 million refinery plant in 2018, President Mnangagwa said: “Willowton South Africa was among the first companies that positively responded to the export oriented and import substitution policy pronouncement made by Government.

“This new manufacturing facility is indeed a demonstration of the confidence you have shown to our trade and investment climate in Zimbabwe.

“This huge investment complements Government’s call for value addition and beneficiation of our primary produce from the agricultural sector, including soya bean and sunflower, among others,” said the President.

The Willowton Group was founded in 1970 in South Africa by the Moosa brothers who ran it together with their sons. It has grown to become a leader in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) field in Southern Africa.

The company manufactures edible oils and related products, including spreads, soaps, candles and industrial fats. With its strategic location in Manicaland, Willowton Group Zimbabwe has an advantage of accessing markets in neighbouring countries that include Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.