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Sonnendal adds big dose of dairy innovation to SA chillers

With their quirky design and superior contents, Sonnendal Diaries’ new yoghurt and fruit juices, currently in launch phase, will add some eye and mouth-catching zip to SA’s dairy shelves. Emma Rowberry of PACKAGiNG & Print Media magazine visited this dynamic dairy to get the story.

Sonnendal Dairies, based in Athlone in the Western Cape, has been around for some time – 15 years in fact – but relatively little is known about this innovative independent producer. However, that said, consumers are no doubt familiar with Sonnendal’s dairy and fruit juice products encased in Pick n Pay’s own-label packaging.

It was 12 years ago that Sonnendal noticed a gap in the market where big dairies were ignoring house brands. This door opened to Sonnendal and a decision was made to focus on developing Pick n Pay’s private label fresh milk, yoghurt and fruit juices. It has been a focus that has been aptly rewarded and the brand has enjoyed phenomenal growth.

Sonnendal in Athlone now supplies Pick n Pay’s yoghurt multipacks and drinking yoghurts nationally and its full dairy range in the Eastern and Western Cape.

Sonnendal is no stranger to innovation, as seen by the conceptualisation and launch of the oval yoghurt tub, developed in partnership with Dairypack, a division of Polyoak Packaging, and designed by Berge Farrell.

Riding the wave of the Pick n Pay brand’s success, Sonnendal is now diving head first into launching its own brand and extensive range of yoghurts, milk and fruit juices.

“The time has come that we need our own brand to remain competitive and to stake our claim in the developments of the burgeoning dairy market,” explains Sonnedal’s MD, Martin Swanepoel. “By launching our own brand we’re also able to get new products to the market faster,” he adds.

There’s a palpable ‘buzz’ at Sonnendal that permeates through the plant, its people and its new products. With their quirky heart-design theme and light-hearted on-pack copy, they’re are sure to attract consumers’ attention and affection on sighting some delicious design work by Urban Lab (previously Liquid Lab), followed by tasting their excellent flavour combinations.

Move to form-fill-sealed yoghurt multipacks with in-mould labelling

But it’s not just innovation in product development that sets Sonnendal apart as a trailblazer in the dairy market.

Besides the launch of the oval yoghurt tub, this independent dairy also claims to be the first to produce form-fill-sealed yoghurt multipacks with in-mould labelling in South Africa.

To cope with current demand for Pick n Pay’s house brand and in preparation of the launch of its own new ranges, Sonnendal has installed three new six-cup yoghurt fillers from Marefa.

Sonnendal milkIn addition to this new equipment, Sonnendal has also developed its own in-line dosing equipment. “This in-house design is something we’re really proud of,” notes Malcolm Jeffery, Sonnendal’s operations director. “We have 17 in-line dosers in the factory, enabling us to mix fruit blends with the base product immediately before filling takes place, saving time and space, as we’re dealing with a multitude of flavours being filled simultaneously for our multipack ranges,” adds Adrian Labuschagne, general manager: operations. “When it comes to flavour change over, only the dosing and filling units need to be cleaned, rather than the entire line to the filling machines,” Adrian continues.

With all its equipment and logistics in place, Sonnendal is now in the process of launching its new products that have been created in collaboration with Jo Pellisier of Urban Lab.

Here Kim Rice, Sonnendal’s marketing manager, picks up the story: “In addition to our existing 46 value lines, we’re now taking the Sonnendal brand into the future with our premium range of elegantly packaged products.”

For its new value range, Sonnendal is launching:

  • Tootilli Frooti yoghurt tubs
  • Sonnendal and Yogüd yoghurt multipacks
  • Flava milk
  • Yo! drinking yoghurt
  • Froot nectar
  • Range of white milk

In the premium market, consumers are in for a treat when they see and taste Sonnendal’s Yotopia range in its distinctive and elegant black packaging with its heart theme bringing it all together. The Yotopia range includes:

  • Fresh cream in a black oval tub from Dairypack and its lidding from Aluminium Foil Converters
  • Buttermilk – in keeping the slow food trend – packaged in HDPE bottles from Dairypack, with caps from African Closures and full shrink sleeves from First Impression Labels;
  • Low-fat yoghurt, in both smooth and fruited blends, packed in multipacks from Dairypack with lidding from Aluminium Foil Converters;
  • A beverage range, Quencha, in PET bottles from Polypet sporting full shrink-sleeve labels from First Impression Labels and sealed with caps from African Closures. Milk in this range features wrap-around labels from ACF Labels: DLC Pack that are so beautiful consumers will no longer need a milk jug for the table!

Sonnendal’s catch phrase is, which this brand captures to perfection. It’s healthy – all Yotopia products are low-fat but created to capture the velvety dessert-like texture of a full-fat product; it’s funny – witty on-pack copy promotes the fun of the brand; and it’s lovely – from the tapered multipack cups, specifically designed by Dairypack for stacking on Marefa’s six-cup filler, to its elegant design and delicious contents.

Sonnendal Dairies:; T +27 021 6917481

First published in PACKAGiNG & Print Media magazine, October 2011

Sonnendal Tootilli

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