HARARE, May 30 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s cooking oil industry says government import restrictions in the past two years have seen locally manufactured products now occupying about 95 percent of local supermarket shelf space, a massive jump from 15 percent in 2014.
Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Sylvester Mangani said raw material shortages on the local market were, however, presenting a challenge, forcing the industry to import crude oils.
Local manufacturers have capacity to produce up to 20 million litres of cooking oil per month, which is almost double the national requirement.
“The ministry has supported us in the last two years via tariff regimes and duty imposition on imported cooking oil. This is a great achievement on the part of the ministry,” Mangani told industry stakeholders last Friday.
“In 2014 before the duty imposition, 85 percent of shelf space in Zimbabwean shops was on imported cooking oil and today that is less than five percent.”
He said the price for the commodity gradually came down from around $4,20 for a two-litre bottle to range between $2,60 and $2,80 during the same period.
“This dispels the notion that imports are better and cheaper,” he said.
Previously, South African cooking oil brands dominated the market.
Mangani said the industry was targeting to venture into soya bean production as local farmers were failing to meet demand for the critical input.
Besides soya bean, cotton seed is also used in the cooking oil manufacturing process but production of the white gold is also teetering on the brink.
“As an industry we have seen that it is necessary for us to integrate backwards into corporate farming so that we can produce the soya bean ourselves,” he said.
“We have made representations to government and hopefully we will get a positive response.”
He said the industry, which employs about 4 000 workers, would play a key role in reviving production of the crop.
“We import crude oils because the country cannot produce enough soyabean for us to crush. The agriculture has to be geared towards producing more seed for us to crush and reduce crude oil imports,” Mangani said.
To avoid cooking oil shortages on the market, government has since placed crude oils (soyabean, sunflower and rapeseed) on the critical list of import requirements.
Local manufacturers then value add the crude oil to produce cooking oil.