Cheap cooking oil threatens United Refineries 

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 19 July 2017   |   By Shingirai Madondo
United Refineries Botswana plant United Refineries Botswana plant

Agro-processing concern United Refineries Botswana (URB) – manufacturers of edible cooking oil - might fail to reach its full potential owing to imports of similar products from the neighboring South Africa into the local market. URB has complained that cheap quality edible cooking oil has flooded the local market –rendering their business unviable, this emerged recently when the Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Vincent Seretse toured the manufacturing company. The P100 million oil factory situated at Dumela Industrial Area in the country’s second largest city started production in 2015. And since then, the factory has been producing for the outside market such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Tanzania. “Our product is not consumed in the country. We have created our own markets in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and other countries in the far eastern part of Africa. But we want to sell our product locally,” revealed URB Managing Director Mmoloki Tibe. Tibe was briefing Seretse after touring the plant that has got the potential of producing 2 500 – 3 000 tons of edible cooking oil per month. The cooking oil is pure sunflower – that is good for the health of the people, he said. “As much as we want to sell our product, it has been difficult because most of the retail outlets prefer to sell South African cheap quality cooking oil at a very low price,” lamented Tibe.  

Tibe urged the government through Seretse’s ministry to enforce the policy on protection of the infant industries. According to Tibe, cheap quality imports should be charged additional duties. “We can only sell in Zambia if there is a vacuum – meaning when the local producers have failed to satisfy the market with edible cooking oil,” said Tibe, adding that other countries in the SADC region protect their infant industries. In response to the URB lamentation, Seretse promised to look into circumstances. If the circumstances are convincing enough, Seretse said some strict measures in as far as imports of edible cooking from South Africa are subject to review. URB is a 100 percent citizen-owned company incorporated in January 2010 with the objective of providing affordable high quality edible vegetable oils using current technologies and systems that optimise efficiency. Products produced are SunGold Pure, SunGold Blended and SunGold Olive Oil. Some products such as SunGold mayonnaise and SunGold Margarine are yet to be manufactured. Bath and washing soaps will also be manufactured.