Cape Town - With the launch of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s new City Deep facility in Johannesburg, the company completes its closer-to-market strategy.
According to Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape, the largest distributor of South African apples and pears and a significant role-player in the country’s R6bn fruit industry, the new 4 000m² offices, storage and distribution centre is five times larger than their previous building.
“Our previous facility served Tru-Cape and our grower owners from Ceres Fruit Growers and Two-a-Day for 30 years and this new building will help us achieve our goals for the next decade and more,” he said.
In addition to investing in infrastructure, Tru-Cape has reduced operating costs through joint-venture partnerships with key customers, further closing the gap between the grower and the consumer.
“Our focus has always been on establishing a good, strong local market brand and this continues with renewed energy,” said Pienaar.
Based on trees already in the ground, the company will have 18 million cartons of fruit to place within the next five years.
“We will now have capacity for 1 152 palettes of fruit as well as administration and meetings spaces. This will allow us to better and more frequently replenish our local customers but also to plan to further expand our cross-border business into Africa, already 36% more year-on-year,” he said.
The building will have three loading bays, five cold-storage rooms to each accommodate 240 palettes as well as a holding and inspection facility. This will allow for quality and phytosanitary inspection in our own facility and for cold-sterilisation where necessary.
Pienaar said Tru-Cape’s Closer-to-Market strategy sees the company working more directly with key customers, focusing specifically on Africa and the Middle East.
“This will ultimately lead to greater management of the value chain and increased returns to our grower shareholders,” he said.
At the helm since January 2014, Pienaar says that 2014 was a year of focussing on people, processes and technology.
“We have increased our operational efficiencies so that we are extracting the maximum value and this will maintain our leadership position and continue to make us relevant for this decade and next,” he said.
“In addition to two meeting rooms we will have the Hannes Rossouw Boardroom which is dedicated to the memory of one of Ceres Fruit Growers’ engineers who worked closely with the Johannesburg building and passed away suddenly recently.
There will be three plug-in points for refrigerated containers to effectively maintain the cold-chain, but the biggest benefit of the new facility is the ability to immediately replenish local retailers who were previously subjected to a 48-hour delay, while fruit was freighted from Cape Town.
Tru-Cape is also eyeing new customers and plans to grow its 60% share of informal market business by these advances.
“We are also growing our basket by adding other fruit and veg lines adding greater value to our growers by managing more of their total crop and not only apples, pears and cherries," he said.
“Increased cross-border business with our neighbours in Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania, Botswana and others is the most significant growth trend with road freight leaving from Johannesburg into sub-Saharan Africa ever more frequently."