FAST moving consumer goods manufacturer Olivine Industries will invest $5 million in the final phase of the margarine processing technology and soap plant upgrade.
This development is expected to improve availability of Buttercup margarine and several soap brands. The new margarine plant has already boosted production efficiencies and Olivine aims to ramp up production capacity to about 80 percent from around 47 percent.
Margarine production at Olivine was being hampered by old equipment, some of it dating back to 1947, which saw the firm losing a considerable market share to other brands. Olivine board chair Peter Madara told The Herald Business that the state-of-the-art plants in the final phase would see the company competing at the highest level.
“Olivine has finished implementing the margarine processing technology project and the soap plant project at a cost of about $10 million. The remaining $5 million will be used in the final phase of the projects. Olivine is investing in margarine processing technology in three phases over a period of three years. Phase 1 has seen the upgrading of the margarine plant to meet world class safety and hygiene standards.
Like other local manufacturers, Olivine is battling the obtaining liquidity crunch which has adversely affected importation of raw materials. Some supermarkets, especially in Bulawayo, are already rationing products such as cooking oil to ensure everyone accesses it as production lines have been throttled.
Meanwhile, Mr Madara said the first consignment of the soap making equipment arrived in Beira, Mozambique, en route to Harare. Once the equipment has been fixed, soap production is expected to begin in earnest by year-end.