Media Alert: Western Cape’s Agro-Processing Embraces Innovation
On Wednesday, 15 May Minister Winde visited two of the province’s agro-processing companies, Afriplex in Paarl, which distributes health products which utilise the province’s indigenous vegetation is a key ingredient, and BM Foods Manufacturers in Montague Gardens, which produces Mediterranean-style food for a wide client base including restaurants and airline caterers.
BM Foods Manufacturers is also one of the biggest olive producers in the country and works with major retailers to sell its products in several African countries.
“In light of the rise in consumer demand in high-growth African countries, expanding into the continent is one of the Western Cape industry’s focus areas”, said Minister Winde.
The agro-processing sector in the Western Cape currently employs 53 847 people and contributes R12.7 billion to the province’s Gross Domestic Product. Minister Winde said that due to its potential to grow our economy and create jobs, the Western Cape Government has put several programmes in place to support the industry.
One of the ways the province does this is through the Western Cape Fine Foods Initiative. In 2011, the Western Cape Government was instrumental in setting up this initiative to support beneficiated agricultural produce in our province. “Through this initiative,100 local companies have received assistance to develop new products, higher food safety standards and quicker responses to market trends.”
In addition to the above support, the province’s destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency, Wesgro, has programmes in place to assist entrepreneurs to access export markets. Wesgro’s Agribusiness Investment Promotion Unit focuses on growing foreign and regional investment in key competitive sectors, of which agro-processing is one.
Minister Winde said there would be continued efforts to strengthen the local industry’s position as a global player: “The Western Cape Government will establish a beneficiary business environment in support of small to medium enterprises, especially with regard to access to research.”
Minister Winde said that the Western Cape agro-processing sector was embracing innovation to improve their competitiveness. One company working with natural and organic products plans to introduce new technology to extend their products’ shelf lives. Their goal is to increase local sales, as well as enter the export market.
Another province-based company is exploring potential markets by actively seeking ways to provide higher quality products than their competitors. One company plans to enter an export market. All of its products are made from Aloe, an indigenous ingredient associated with health benefits. This firm was now working towards obtaining the international safety standard, ISO 22 000.
“To effectively compete against imported products and into export markets the Western Cape industry must meet the price, quality and delivery requirements demanded by consumers. A key focus in this regard will be to drive growth through partnerships with retailers. I’m pleased to say industry role-players have made significant progress,” said Minister Winde.