Universal Industries has positioned itself as a key driver of Malawi’s economy and a benchmark in the country’s manufacturing sector. Established in 1957, Universal Industries began as a producer of a single type of biscuit and has grown over the years to become a major food manufacturer with over 1,500 employees and a diverse range of products. While local sales account for the majority of its revenues, Universal Industries is steadily expanding its exports to regional markets.
The company is ranked Malawi’s leading producer and distributor of quality biscuits, confectionery, savoury snacks, baking ingredients, beverages and milk powder. Universal Industries produces many of Malawi’s top brands, including “Universal” biscuits, confectionery and potato crisps; “Zokoma” biscuits; “Kamba” snacks; “Njuli” coffee; “Nyika Springs” water; “Frooty” squash; and the newly launched “Nutri Gluco Phala (NGP)” porridge under the Sun Valley brand. With this new porridge, Universal Industries has diversified its product portofolio into nutritional foods in order to cater to the needs of consumers and support the government’s efforts to combat nutritional deficiencies through the “Providing Nutrition to the Nation” drive.
Universal Industries has three manufacturing facilities in Blantyre and a beverage plant in Mzuzu as well as five warehouses throughout the country. The Mzuzu plant is also positioned to produce fruit beverages using locally grown fruit and has the potential to provide a significant boost to the local economy. One of Universal Industries’ core strengths is its ability to distribute to all urban and rural areas nationwide as well as regionally with the versatile range of its commercial fleet.
In addition to manufacturing, Universal Industries has its own farming operation which produces coffee, potatoes (including seed potatoes) and other crops. The company has vertically backward-integrated its processes with success and has made a major contribution to improving the value chains of the major crops with which it is involved.
Universal Industries is currently working with a number of global partners and donors in various agricultural projects, including public-private partnerships. These partners include Irish Aid, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the CAVA project, the Business Innovation Facility of DFID, the International Potato Centre, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and the government of Malawi, among others. One of Universal Industries’ goals is to help promote small and medium-sized enterprises which can add value and contribute to economic growth in rural communities.
Strong commitment to Malawi’s economic development
The company is committed to contributing to Malawi’s economic growth and to helping improve the lives of the country’s people. In addition to supporting a number of community-service initiatives, Universal Industries recently launched a project to process cassava sourced from over 7,000 smallholders and it already works with 850 smallholders who grow potatoes for the company.
Universal Industries welcomes the chance to launch new projects with international partners. Dinshi Amin, Chairman, explains, “Malawi’s manufacturing sector has significant potential, and Universal Industries has a long history here. We also have modern equipment from Germany and Holland and highly-trained human resources. We are looking for international partners who can not only inject capital and help our company continue to grow but who can also help us create more ways to add value to Malawi’s products, for example a project with Kellogg to make cornflakes using corn grown in Malawi. Our mandate is to add value to Malawian crops from the soil to the supermarket shelf.”