Orley Foods

Happy 50th birthday, Orley Foods!

Orley Foods, the quietly iconic food ingredients company based in Cape Town, is celebrating a half century in business.

‘Quietly iconic’ is apt, because, while most wouldn’t know it, Orley products are simply everywhere. Its retail brand, Orley Whip, a non-dairy cream, is legendary, but this once-flagship product now sits on the backend of a considerable chocolate, confectionery and other specialised ingredient portfolio that’s produced at its huge factory campus in Montague Gardens, Cape Town.

That choc chip in your biscuit? The strawberry pieces in your muffin? That yoghurt-coating on your energy bar? That vermicelli and fondant on your cupcake? The sweet sucker punch in that fruity alcoholic beverage? Yes, they all probably come from Orley.

Orley is a remarkable success story (see below), a family business that’s now moving into a new era, and its future prospects are described by outgoing chairman, Seymour Abrahams as “unbelievably exciting – watch this space”.

He and Andrew Janik, whose father-in-law and uncle respectively got the business off the ground back in the 1960s, have jointly guided and built the company over the past three decades. The duo is retiring in confidence at the end of the year, and handing over the reins to its top management team to be headed by incumbent commercial director Craig Henry. This follows Orley’s acquisition just over three years ago by the private equity Libstar group and which boasts an impressive stable of entrepreneurial food companies.

See more at www.orley.co.za

Orley celebrated its 50th birthday with a large gathering of staff, family, suppliers and customers. 

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Andrew Janik, Craig Henry and Seymour Abrahams.
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David Finlayson (Finlar Foods) and Robin Smith (Libstar).
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Barry Todes (Barry’s Bars) and Roy Fine (Berfin).
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Craig Broadfoot (Orley) and Tony Roderigues (Clover SA).
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Harry Myers – one of the founders and looking good in his 90s.
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Bill Forbes, a director of Chipkins that’s had a long partnership with Orley.

Orley Foods in brief

•• Orley Foods, much like the confectionery ingredients it produces, has a colourful history. It was established in 1960 as Orley Chemicals, a manufacturer of adhesives, commercial paint and plastic doilies, established in the 1960s by Polish airman, Captain Joseph Janik, and soon joined by South African wartime compatriot, Harry Myers.

Orley Whip•• In mid 1960s, Orley moved into food with the purchase from a UK company of the rights to make and subsequently own its non-dairy cream brand that became the renowned Orley Whip. Then positioned as an affordable alternative to real cream, it’s is now sold for its versatility and functionality, and is extensively used in the bakery, food service and consumer sectors.• The Orley Whip recipe remains unchanged after many years – it is an oil in water emulsion made from refined, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, vegetable emulsifiers and stabilisers, and natural colourants and flavourants. It is widely used in the bakery and food service sectors.

•• From an initial four customers in the 1980s, this has grown to ± 300 customers, from small enterprises to the world’s biggest food multinationals. Orley boasts five production technologies today: chocolate, Gemz (bake-stable, soft fruit cubes), fondant, non-dairy toppings and liquid sugar. It has some 340 products on its inventory, albeit not all are manufactured all the time.

Gemz• Myers’ son-in-law, Seymour Abrahams, joined the company in 1984 to take charge of sales and marketing, while Janik’s nephew, Andrew, left his native Poland around the same time, bringing with him chemical engineering and financial expertise. They are today, respectively, chairman and CEO, but both will retire at the end of 2010, and hand over the reins to the new Libstar team, lead by Craig Henry.

• Orley expanded into chocolate, especially non-tempered varieties, and in 1986 ventured into the liquid sugar business with the purchase of I Spitzglass & Sons.

• Orley moved to Montague Gardens, Cape Town, in 1989 to 13 Chain Ave. The next door plot was later also purchased, and its total premises now occupy a huge 8 000m².

•• Orley was one of the pioneers of the choc chip in South Africa – and which has become huge business – and  it was the first to introduce yoghurt, fruit and carob chocolate.

• • Orley’s growth over the past 12 years or so has been exponential. It now enjoys sales of well over R270 million pa. This can be put down to numerous factors, but most significantly to innovation, grabbing all entrepreneurial opportunities and word-of-mouth spread of its products and competencies.

•• Fundamental to its growth has been its embrace of relationship marketing, largely initiated by vastly experienced technical manager, Thys Bester, now retired. Orley calls this approach to business its “RADaR philosophy” (Research, Attitude, Delivery and Relationship). This has two-fold meaning. On the one hand, it signifies a willingness to push boundaries, to radically innovate and explore new options, on the other, it encompasses the concepts of Research, Attitude and Delivery.

• These relationships stretch from the basic as an ingredient supplier to provide an ‘aspirin for somebody’s manufacturing headache’, to very complex and value-adding partnerships where Orley has taken over clients’ plant and equipment, is intimately involved in their new product development and idea generation and provides groundbreaking out-of-the-box solutions.

• As a result, many multinationals have become key customers as Orley has proven its worth as a local supplier of ingredients that were previously imported. Such blue chip customers are Nestle, Unilever, Cadbury, Bidfood, Kraft, Distell, Woolworths, Genfood etc.

• Employing a large team of food scientists and technicians, Orley prides itself on its technical and QA expertise. It is a stalwart provider of in-service training for food technology students. Orley was presented with the SAAFoST President’s Award in 2005 in recognition of its service to the association and promoting food science and technology in SA.

•• Orley’s HACCP-certified factory is essentially five specialised factories under one roof. Orley’s vast array of products can be largely divided in chocolate products, Gemz, syrup and sugar-based products, non-dairy whips and toppings, and panned and coated products.

• • Orley products find multifold applications: for coating, decoration, dipping, enrobing, filling, moulding, as inclusions, ingredients and toppings. The company serves the following markets: bakery and confectionery, food service and hospitality, yoghurt and ice cream manufacturers, biscuit and cereal manufacturers, the beverage industry and retail and wholesale customers. Home industries make up an extensive second-tier customer base.

At the end of this year, Orley will be fully owned by Libstar, the South African private equity company with headquarters in Illovo, Johannesburg, – and which consolidates a number of food, household and personal care manufacturers and distribution businesses with entrepreneurially managed subsidiaries. LIbstar bought a 75% stake in Orley three years ago. Its food companies include:

Dickon Hall Foods: manufactures and packages branded wet food products, sauces and condiments.

FEAST (Food Excellence and Superb Taste): a food service company.

Finlar Foods: manufactures value-added red and white meat products for the convenience food sector and supplies clients such as McDonalds, KFC, County Fair and Woolworths.

Lancewood Dairy: based in George, Southern Cape.

Montagu Foods: producer of fruit-based chutneys and sauces.

Retailer Brands: manufacturers and distributes dry food products such as soups, jellies, spices, sauces, baking powder, colorants, essences and cornflour, both under its own brand names, as well as for retailers and wholesale house brands.

Ribworld: imports chilled and frozen meat products that it supplies to franchise chains, retailers and restaurants.

Rialto Foods: supplies trusted brands from Italy including pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, specialist cheeses and meats, canned tomatoes, fresh desserts, coffee and chocolate.

The Cape Herb & Spice Co: supplier of a top range of herbs and spices.

Tony’’s Bakery: leading baker of buns, soft white and brown rolls, croissants, confectionery and specialty breads.

See more at www.libstar.co.za