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Woolies, In2foods and DTI open fabulous new fresh foods facility

Woolworths and Department of Trade and Industry officially launch the largest ultra-fresh food manufacturing facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

Last week, Zyda Rylands (left), CEO of Woolworths South Africa, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (‘the dti’) and the Gauteng Provincial Government officially opened the doors of In2food’s new 22 700m² food production facility in the OR Tambo Special Economic Zone in Johannesburg. 

As the largest and most diverse ultra-fresh food facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and the second largest C02 refrigeration facility in the world, the new Bonaero site was developed to Woolworths quality specifications and will create 600 new jobs.

With a total development value of R400m, In2food, Woolworths largest fresh and prepared food supplier, received over R140m from national and provincial government.

Speaking at the launch event, Rylands said, “I am very proud to be opening this world class food production facility. In2food has been a Woolies’ Food partner for more than 28 years and this project was a natural extension of that relationship, with the shared goals of driving innovation and job creation.

“This facility will create 600 new job opportunities as well as additional jobs and economic opportunities across the country’s agricultural value chain. Bonaero Drive will allow In2food to expand their technological expertise as well as contribute to the development of the food production industry in the country.”

The OR Tambo Special Economic Zone, in which the new In2food site is situated, is a multi-site development and consists of several industry-specific precincts which will be developed in phases over a 10- to 15-year period.

According to Lionel October, Director General at the dti, the launch of the In2food plant is one of the strategic initiatives that will stimulate South Africa’s agriculture production, contribute to the economy of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, and increase the country’s export earnings. The project will also help in creating much needed jobs.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the opening of this new industrial site is another positive example of how inclusive growth and localisation of industry should work in South Africa.

“The Special Economic Zone model creates the ideal environment for investment into industrialisation. Government is committed to utilising its economic agencies as a platform to strengthen, build and localise large industrialisation programmes, creating not only jobs but thriving communities in the various economic hubs.

“The handover of the factory to the investor tenant, In2food is a demonstration of Government and private sector working together to successfully deliver economic development and create much-needed job opportunities. ”

Richard Cooper (left), CEO of In2food said, “The official launch of our new site is a major milestone for us and South Africa. This is the largest capital project ever undertaken by In2food and will create a world class facility that will be a significant move in terms of capacity, capabilities and quality, both for In2food and our customers.

“With the expansion of In2food this new facility will create 600 new jobs over the next two years helping ORT SEZ to reach its first 50% of their job creation goal which is 1200 by 2025. In2food will be recruiting within food science, production, engineering, operations and administration roles.”

The 20,000m² processing area houses world-class state-of-the-art food manufacturing equipment imported from around the world as well as quality South African equipment. 

As an example, the new facility will be producing 2,000 litres of soup and 10,000 pancakes per hour. The In2food factory will increase the export of fresh food products from OR Tambo International to a projected R1bn by 2025.

The In2food Bonaero site will also be the first registered five-star industrial site in South Africa, as rated by the Green Building Council South Africa using the Green Star Industrial rating tool.  

“We are particularly proud of the facility’s sustainability credentials, being listed as South Africa’s first five star eco-friendly industrial site. Sustainability is core to the Woolies business. This was part of our joint specifications for the site and is further testament to our shared values,” concluded Rylands.

Some more interesting facts and figures

At the opening, the new facilities operations manager, Joe McKay, shared some of the capabilities of the site.

“The project team has travelled all around South Africa as well as the rest of the world as part of this project. It is one of the most complex food factories in the world, doing an extremely wide range of products.

“We currently expect to do 300 individual finished products each and every day, ranging from chopped vegetables to sandwiches, from hummus to pizzas, ready meals and soups and many things in between.

“To do all of this we have purchased equipment from the UK, France and Germany as well as the best of local manufacture, which will enable us to produce, on a daily basis:

  • 160,000 pancakes
  • 32,000 litres of soup
  • 16,000kgs of pasta
  • 6,400 kgs of dips
  • 45,000 kgs of salad and vegetables

“It is no exaggeration to say this is one of the most complex and advanced food factories in the world, comprising:

  • 22,700 square metres of floor space, which equates to more than three rugby pitches.
  • 8,000 square metres of solar panels that will provide 25% of our electrical requirements.
  • Space for 36 individual production lines
  • 23kms of electrical cabling
  • 13,917 tonnes of concrete
  • 1,070 tonnes of steel
  • 92,184 nuts and bolts
  • As well as 891,624 bricks… to be precise

“From the beginning of this project, the goal has been to deliver an environmentally friendly, as well as highly functional, building. In addition to the solar panelling other environmental initiatives include:

  • Water-saving taps, showers and toilets
  • Industry-leading insulation for both the production area and offices
  • Canteen furniture locally manufactured from 100% recycled plastic
  • Grey water recycling
  • A CO2-based refrigeration plant, which is the second largest in the world
  • The use of natural gas as opposed to LPG or paraffin, to power boilers and equipment

“Within two years this site will employ 2,000 colleagues, which is an increase of 600 on today’s number. A lot of emphasis has been placed on enhancing our colleague experience, and in regular consultation with our Colleague Committee we are pleased to have been able to include:

  • Shower facilities available to all
  • A modern canteen providing subsidised meals for all as well as a range of groceries
  • Wi-fi availability and internet café
  • Fully managed medical clinic
  • 60 seater development centre for food safety and operations management training, as well as extra-curricular learning.”

Source: Woolworths

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