12 Apr 16 Agribusiness GWK makes big move into wheat-based retail brands
Northern Cape agribusiness, GWK, has unveiled what it calls “one of the most modern and technologically advanced food production facilities on the continent”, the GWK Farm Foods factory.
The farmer-owned South African agribusiness has invested R400m in its new wheat mill, pasta plant and biscuit factory at Modder River. This includes R60m in expanded silo capacity to service the advanced milling, pasta and biscuit manufacturing technology imported from Italy and Switzerland.
GWK Farm Foods, a subsidiary of GWK, will initially produce wheat flour, pasta and biscuits under the new Nature’s Farms brand in addition to its already established maize meal products.
GWK’s MD, Pieter Spies, says the product names and packaging design showcase GWK’s origin on the farm, and the new products are a clear response to consumers’ growing interest in knowing where their food comes from.
“We ensured that we thoroughly understood the size of the category for pasta and what needed to be done from a product development point of view.
“For biscuits we made absolutely sure that we have the right flavours, cutting-edge innovation, and the best taste profiles. For our wheat flour, understanding the results required for the baker was pivotal in all our planning.
“We will continue to innovate our maize meal to ensure that we stay ahead in the category,”
Route to market
Other food products from GWK farms will also be brought to market under the new Nature’s Farms brand as consumer demand dictates – or where the GWK team identifies opportunities to enter more categories with new products.
Spies says GWK is very selective in its route to market for the new product line: “Alignment with the correct partners up to and onto the shelf is absolutely crucial.
“Our brands are premium products with an authentic origin, therefore, top-end retail is key. As part of GWK’s business strategy, implementing the best technology to produce Nature’s Farm products and honouring the farmer produce was crucial in the planning phase.
“This has allowed us to take ownership of the value chain, implement product diversification and produce premium goods while keeping costs as low as possible.”
At full capacity
According to Tom Meintjes, GM: Grain Products at GWK, the new facility was commissioned at full capacity, 2,5 years after construction started. The project was completed on time and within a deviation of less than 2% of original cost projections.
More than 400 temporary employment opportunities were created during construction, while more than 100 permanent jobs have been created at the new plant.
The new agri-processing plant boasts a capacity of 25 tons per hour for wheat flour, 1.3 tons per hour for biscuits and one ton per hour for pasta.
The wheat used at the plant is sourced from irrigation farms that produce premium grains and are known for their high quality in the GWK production area.
The unveiling of the new plant and product line comes shortly after GWK announced record financial results for the 2015 financial year, which include a more than 50% year-on-year increase in profit.