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To address the scarcity in edible oil supply, five companies agreed with the Addis Ababa Trade Bureau to distribute 7.2 million liters of palm oil per month.
AHFA Plc, Al-Sam International, Belayneh Kindie Import and Export (BKIE), Guna Trading House Plc and Alle Bejemla Enterprise were selected to distribute palm oil starting August 1st.
Previously, the Merchandise Wholesale and Import Trade Enterprise (MEWIT) controlled the importation and distribution of palm oil.
MEWIT has offered palm oil packaged in three, five, ten, 20, and 25 liter containers since 2011.
The new deal put an end to MEWIT’s monopoly, introducing five companies to the scene. The five companies are expected to distribute 20 percent of their stock to Consumer Associations and sell the rest to retailers.
Government organizations and hospitals will be able to buy oil directly from the companies at government-set prices.
The recent edible oil shortage forced the government to allow more companies to enter the import and distribution market.
In 2011, the government restricted edible oil import by private companies, announcing that it will import and distribute cooking oil itself in order to regulate market price.
Gemeches Melaku, deputy head of the Addis Ababa Trade Bureau, told Capital that the companies will be tasked with stabilizing the market.
“The ultimate goal of the agreement is to stabilize the market, making cooking oil abundantly available. Companies like Al-Sam are on the way to locally producing palm oil, which would further reduce the price,” Gemeches said.
Gemeches also asked for the cooperation of stakeholders to control the proper operation of distribution channels. Currently, total local palm oil demand is 420,000 tons per year.
The world’s most widely used cooking oil, palm oil, is produced primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia, which collectively account for 85 percent of global output. Its price dropped 20 percent last year because of an abundance of oilseeds, despite efforts in both countries to increase palm-based bio-diesel use.
Although oilseeds make up a large part of Ethiopia’s crop production, the country relies mainly on imported products to meets its growing demand for edible oil. Annual consumption of edible oil in Ethiopia is estimated at around 530,000 tons a year.
Repi Wilmar, through seven billion birr in investments for 14 factories, including an oil refinery, is expected to meet 80 percent of Ethiopia’s palm oil demand