Savola to up Saudi capacity to 400,000 tpy
Riyadh, April 21, 2009
Savola Foods will raise its edible oil refining capacity in Saudi Arabia to 400,000 tonnes per year (tpy), from 300,000 tpy, when a new refining unit comes online end-2009, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.
Zouhair Eloudghari said Savola, a unit of Saudi-based Savola Group, would use the added capacity from the Gulf state to boost market share in nearby countries such as Syria and Iraq.
'The new refinery is coming onstream by the end of this year, which will bring our total capacity to 400,000 tonnes,' Eloudghari told journalists at an oils and fats conference in the Egyptian capital.
He said the firm currently holds 15 per cent of the market in Syria, and a negligible share in Iraq. It holds 35 per cent of the market in Jordan.
'Now there is a huge opportunity as Iraq gets more secure and Syria opens up,' he said. 'Our total market share in the Levant is currently around 15 per cent, but our target is 40 to 50 per cent, so we need to distribute at least another 100,000 tonnes to this region.'
He added that he expected the firm to import 1.4 million tonnes of vegetable oil for refining in 2009, a 5 per cent increase over 2008 when the firm imported 1.28 million tonnes.
Savola Group, the world's largest maker of branded cooking oil, posted a near-23 per cent fall in first-quarter net profit to 193 million riyals ($51.47 million), better than analysts' forecasts.
The firm has said its earnings in the first quarter of last year were boosted by non-recurring capital gains.-Reuters