BRUNEI-MUARA – Edible oils produced by Western Foods and Packaging Sdn Bhd (WFP) will help the local food industry become more competitive by cutting reliance on imported ingredients, said the deputy minister of Finance and Economy on Tuesday.

On the sidelines of a launching ceremony where a number of WFP’s products were introduced to the public, Dr Hj Abd Manaf Hj Metussin said before the establishment of its plant, raw ingredients such as margarine were mostly imported.

“By having WFP establish these products here [in Brunei] they can help businesses lower their operating costs by eliminating the need to import raw ingredients.”

During the launch, WFP introduced four products — an all purpose margarine, two shorteners and a professional frying oil — all of which are sold in bulk by cartons weighing from 10kg to 20kg. Meanwhile, the frying oil is available in 18 litre tins.

Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Dr Hj Abdul Manaf (C) and Western Food and Packaging factory manager, Turhan Abali (R), inspect various food products made using margarine produced by WFP. Photo: Hazimul Wa’ie/The Scoop

“The lowering of production cost benefits both businesses and consumers by allowing players in the industry to be more competitive in their pricing…This will eventually allow them to export products at the regional and international level,” Dr Hj Abd Manaf said.

He added: “With WFP’s direct input to the industry, it will elevate our food industry to a different level and there are already distributors who will sell WFP products in smaller quantities for home-based food businesses, so everyone is benefitting.”

WFP’s aim is to leverage on the distribution networks available through its parent company, the Turkish conglomerate Yıldız  Holding, which has 300 food brands available in more than 130 countries.

WFP is a subsidiary of Marsa Yag Sanayi Ve Ticaret AS, the largest food manufacturer in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, generating a revenue of US$12 billion via their globally-known brands such as McVities, Godiva and Ulker.

File photo shows Western Food and Packaging’s margarine manufacturing plant in Serasa. Photo: Hazimul Wa’ie/The Scoop

WFP factory manager, Turhan Abali, said although the company is heavily export-oriented, they are keen to develop an ecosystem where local industries can thrive.

At full production capacity, the plant is able to produce 60,000 tonnes of margarine annually, a volume too large for just the Brunei market, he noted.

“We are one of the first export-oriented companies to be established in Brunei, but there are still some challenges that we have to face.”

“The Muara Port for instance, it is still considerably small, but as we engage with more countries, hopefully the port will evolve with us especially in terms of its capacity, so that the port may also be competitive”.

He said that at the moment, the factory has not yet achieved full production capacity, reaching just 10 percent capacity this month. But Turhand added that they hope to achieve 40 percent capacity by the end of this year, equivalent to more than 20,000 tonnes of margarine.

Since its establishment in November 2017, WFP has exported to eight countries including Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines.