United Refineries in export drive

Agro-processing firm, United Refineries, has embarked on an export drive to boost its revenue streams and unlock shareholder value.

United Refineries chief executive Busisa Moyo said his company was, however, looking at new ways of working with the informal sector in export distribution.

“We are already present in countries like Zambia through indirect distribution courtesy of informal traders. We do a lot of sales into the Victoria Falls which end up in Zambia through cross-border trading.

“So our strategy would be to look at how we can collaborate in that area and make the most out of the arrangement,” he said.

Moyo noted that most of the company’s customers were traders who were not liable to various taxes levied upon big organisations exporting.

“Because most of the people who buy are traders, we have discovered that informal traders have ways to take the goods across the border.

“When we export formally there are lots of restrictions and charges that are levied on our products on the other side, so working with smaller traders is a better option at the moment,” he added.

The United Refineries boss also said the weakening of regional currencies against the United States dollar — the country’s main trading currency — had also affected export business.

“The weakening currencies have also slowed us down in export markets as the rand, Zambia kwacha and Mozambican meticais have also weakened considerably to the United States dollar so this has made our products a bit expensive.

“So we are going back to the drawing board looking at how we export so that the process can yield a reasonable yield,” he said adding the group was keen on exporting.

This comes as Moyo, who is also the Confederation of Zimbabwe president, recently said the United Refineries intended to commence significant exports to Mozambique and Angola in the second half of the year and reviving the Zambia and Botswana markets.

The agro-processing company has already begun packaging some of its products in Portuguese to cater for the Mozambique market.

The group’s cooking oil unit is presently operating at 65-75 percent. While the soaps division is operating below 50 percent capacity, United Refineries managed to revive previously out-of-production brands like the Olive and Star Bars.

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

United Refineries Limited is the second largest cooking oil refinery in Zimbabwe. The country has four oil producing firms — ETG Parrogate, Surface Investments, Olivine and United Refineries

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