Unilever ice cream factory

Unilever invests R500m in new Midrand ice cream factory

Unilever South Africa has broken ground on an envisaged R500-million ice-cream manufacturing facility, in Midrand, to drive the FMCG company’s capacity expansion strategy in SA and exploit what chairperson, Peter Cowan, describes as a swelling consumer market.

“The South African ice-cream market is relatively small, but one that we believe offers significant long-term potential. South Africans consume an average of only one-litreof ice cream [per person] a year, which is far less than counties such as New Zealand, which consume an average of 15-litre [per person] a year.

“This investment intends to capitalise on the local growth potential,” he commented at a sod turning ceremony last week.

The 40 000 m2 factory, which would be developed at the Lord’s View Industrial Park, was targeted to start production of Unilever ice-cream products, including Magnum, Gino Ginelli, Paddlepop, Fruttare and Rich n Creamy, in mid-2015.

Once complete, the environmentally-efficient manufacturing facility would provide 180 permanent jobs and would exploit energy efficient motors, drive mixers and air compressors, as well as “smart” water efficiency technology, enabling the reclamation of water used in the production phases. It would also produce zero waste to landfill.

The company was currently in discussion with several construction and engineering firms and expected to announce its development partner in the coming weeks.

The development, which is one of 30 new factories to be established by Unilever by 2015, followed earlier announcements by the group that it would invest over R1-billion in the development of home care manufacturing facilities in Boksburg, and R670-million in a new savoury products factory, in Durban.

Cowan added that the facility would further aid the company in its aim of doubling the size of its local business, while decoupling its growth from its environmental impact.

“With investments planned across South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zimbabwe, this is just another example of out multiyear, multimillion-rand investment plan to cater for growth in the region, and will enable us to better service our retail customers,” he held.

Lauding the investment, Trade and Industry deputy director-general Pumla Ncapayi added that the manufacturing sector continued to play a critical role in ensuring that South Africa achieved higher rates of economic growth.

“Unilever has been critical in this process and we look forward to it continuing to play a role in ensuring that the country becomes an even more globally competitive manufacturing location,” she said.

Caption: Peter Cowan, the chairman of Unilever South Africa, and Pumla Ncapayi, a DTI deputy director-general, eat ice-cream at the unveiling of the R500m factory plans.