Packaging rice for Africa

2013-06-13 00:00

ALLSOME Brands, a joint venture between Pietermaritzburg’s Willowton Group and global agribusiness company Louis Dreyfus Commodities officially inaugurated their rice cleaning and packing plant in Willowton yesterday, and announced their new brand of premium quality rice to a group of guests that included invited businesses, the mayors of Pietermaritzburg and Umgungundlovu, representatives of the Pietermaritzburg and Durban chambers of business and commerce, and a delegation from Louis Dreyfus Johannesburg and Switzerland.

Louis Dreyfus Commodities annually supplies three million tons of rice globally. Of this, 70% is supplied to Africa, and the company has a longstanding presence in South Africa and Africa.

The equity partnership with the Willowton Group is Louis Dreyfus’s flagship project in this region and Allsome Rice is also its first expansion into the retail sector in South Africa.

Thomas Couteaudier, general manager of Louis Dreyfus Commodities Southern Africa, said that Africa is the next big market to open up for the company. He said the company wants to grow across the value chain and to collaborate with strong local partners.

The 160-year-old Louis Dreyfus Commodities is a global merchandiser of commodities, a major asset owner and a processor of agricultural goods. Its portfolio includes oilseeds, grains, juice, cotton, coffee, sugar, feed, freight, finance, dairy, metals, and fertilisers and inputs.

The 43-year-old Willowton Group, South Africa’s largest sunflower seed crusher, has manufacturing facilities in Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg and Cape Town, producing candles, soaps, edible oils and margarines with such well-known brands as Sunfoil, Sunshine D, Nuvolite and D’lite.

Of the joint venture with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Willowton Group director of sales and marketing, Shoaib Moosa said: “We saw this as a natural category extension to our current brands and an exciting venture into new territory.”

The new state-of-the-art, 10 000 square metre cleaning and packing facility at the Willowton Group’s Pietermaritzburg site can package 10 000 tons of rice a month, and has the capacity to increase this significantly.

On-site warehousing can ensure that over 6 000 tons of rice is on call and Willowton Group has further warehousing in Johannesburg.

Moosa would not divulge the extent of the investment in the new venture by the Willowton Group, but said that it has created 50 immediate jobs and is expected to provide further employment for another 200 people in future.

A second packing plant is planned, possibly for the first quarter next year, he admitted, but also would not be drawn to say where this will be located.

He was hopeful that this was the first of a range of Allsome products that one day could include coffee, orange juice and sugar.

“It is our intention to expand this basket,” he said.

Allsome Rice is a high-quality, long-grained parboiled rice that has been approved by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. It will be available in a stand-out red pack at retailers and wholesalers countrywide, in five sizes ranging from 500 gm to 10 kg.

Allsome Brands also has a value-for-money range of D’lite parboiled rice, extending the Willowton Group’s successful D’lite margarine and cooking oil range into rice.

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