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How we help make your coffee sweet

Unitrans play a significant role in sugar production in Southern Africa, with big contributions at various points in the supply chain. Unitrans provides “comprehensive transport and logistics services,” including harvesting, loading, and transportation of cane, delivery of bulk and packed sugar, and activities in land preparation and road maintenance.

Historically, Unitrans has been a leading company in the transportation area of the sugar industry within South Africa and expanded into African sugar operations during the mid-1990s.

At present, Unitrans sugar operations include:

  • Illovo’s Nchalo and Dwangwa in Malawi;
  • Ubombo in Swaziland;
  • Kilombero in Tanzania; and
  • Long-term contracts in Mozambique at Tongaat’s Xinavane and Mafambisse operations and Illovo’s Maragra, transporting over 2 million tonnes of cane per year.
  • Marromeu Depot that is owned by Companhia de Sena which, in turn, is owned by French company Tereos Internacional SA, the second-largest sugar producer in the world.
  • Transportation of organic sugar for Pure Life Organic Foods, also in Mozambique.

Two of the most significant contributions lie in land preparation and transportation.


The productive Dwangwa mill in Malawi, which crushes 700 000 tons annually from the estate, in addition to the production of over 140 000 tons from out-growers, is one of the two mills in Malawi where Illovo has a controlling interest and Unitrans provides logistics services. The Dwangwa mill receives its cane in bundles which arrive secured by chains and delivered on Unitrans road trains.

Comprised of as many as five specially-made single-bundle trailers, each road train is capable of delivering up to 32,5-ton loads. The Dwangwa bundle system, though virtually unique in the African sugar industry, works well, drawing partly on round-the-clock cooperation between DSC, the out-growers and Unitrans and partly on specialised equipment such as loaders and trailers custom designed for the task.

Mtibwa and Kilombero Sugar in Tanzania are two milling companies that also have a well-developed outgrown network. Learn more about contract farming here.

Land preparation

Illovo controls about 45% of the South African domestic market with 4 mills in South Africa. It is the largest sugar supplier to the Malawi domestic market and has a significant footprint in the Zambia sugar market as well as other economies across Southern Africa.

Another factor essential to Illovo’s success through Dwangwa’s sugar production is soil preparation and drainage on the region’s very flat land. Unitrans provides land preparation services with an equipment fleet that includes new heavy-duty 8500 series John Deere tractors. Our land preparation is aimed at volume-based, cost-efficient land services which range from land clearing to ploughing, ripping, precision levelling, and ridging as well as earthworks for drainage.

Tongaat is the second most important player, after Illovo Sugar, in the sugar markets of East and Southern Africa. It has four mills in South Africa, two mills in Mozambique, two in Zimbabwe, and extensive cane operations in each of these countries as well as Swaziland. Unitrans is heavily involved in various aspects of Tongaat’s production.

A testament to Unitrans’ effective involvement in the sugar industry in Africa are awards and praise to all stakeholders involved in the contract operations in several countries. Read more about that here