The group is Africa’s biggest sugar producer and has extensive agricultural and manufacturing operations in six African countries. The group produces raw and refined sugar for local, regional African, European Union (EU), United States of America (USA) and world markets from sugar cane supplied by its own agricultural operations and independent outgrowers who supply cane to Illovo’s factories. High-value products manufactured downstream of the sugar production process are sold internationally into niche markets. Installed electricity generating capacity, fuelled by renewable resources, provides 90% of the group’s energy requirements. Illovo is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Associated British Foods Plc.
The group’s countries of operation provide good climatic and soil conditions, which, accompanied by irrigation from secure and sustainable water sources, are ideal for the cultivation of high-yielding and high-quality sugar cane, with 6.1 million tons of sugar cane having been harvested by our own operations in the 2013/14 season. Combined with cane supplied by independent outgrowers in all six countries of operation, the group has the capacity to produce more than two million tons of sugar annually.
The group is a major supplier of sugar to the consumer and industrial markets in its own countries of operation and to neighbouring regional African markets, using an extensive network of distribution and logistics channels. It also exports sugar to the EU and USA and, through the South African sugar industry, sells sugar into the world market. Syrup and speciality sugars are produced in South Africa and Zambia mainly for domestic consumption, while speciality sugars made in Malawi and Zambia are produced for preferential markets in the EU and in the case of Malawi, also for the USA.
The majority of our downstream production is sold internationally into high-value, niche markets. Furfural and its derivatives are produced at the Sezela mill complex on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal while high-quality ethyl alcohol, from which various grades of alcohol are made, is produced at the Glendale distillery on the north coast and at our Merebank plant in Durban, which also manufactures lactulose. In Tanzania, the newly-commissioned distillery adjacent to our Kilombero mills, supplies potable alcohol to the local and regional beverage industry. In addition to the production of potable and denatured alcohol from molasses in South Africa, opportunities to expand Illovo’s involvement in this area of operation are being explored across the group.
Illovo aims to ensure reliable cost-effective energy supply utilising bagasse and biomass generated from its operations, and where attractive, to export power into the national grids of the countries in which we operate.
As a major private investor in Africa, Illovo operates and markets its products in countries that face considerable challenges in the form of poverty, unemployment, inequality and disease. The United Nations (UN) classifies Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania as among the world’s least developed countries. The group has a significant positive impact on the rural communities in the areas in which we operate, inter alia, by creating valuable jobs and economic opportunities, and providing accommodation, healthcare, educational assistance and basic services to employees. In addition, where no such facilities exist, the group provides medical care to communities, assists in education delivery, provides municipal and civic services and access to water and sanitation, and participates in community outreach programmes. Considerable training and other support is provided to local small and medium-scale growers in order to promote sustainable agriculture and economic development activities. The total cane supplies from these growers and community-based co-operative schemes amounts to approximately 3.6 million tons annually.