No word on financial impact of listeriosis - Tiger Brands CEO

Cape Town – Tiger Brands [JSE:TBS] is still quantifying the financial impact of the listeriosis outbreak on its business, said CEO Lawrence MacDougall.

Tiger Brands held a press briefing in Bryanston on Monday, for the sake of  “transparency” MacDougall said. Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday announced that one of its subsidiaries, Enterprise Food’s facilities in Polokwane, was the source of SA’s latest listeriosis outbreak.

The share price held steady around R394.02 during the briefing, this after falling more than 8% when markets opened.

By 16:00, before the briefing closed, shares were trading up at R398.50.

Tiger Brands has since suspended operations in Polokwane and Germiston to clean the facilities, said MacDougall. The company has a 25% share of the 240 000 tons of processed cold meats. This is 60 000 tons per year, MacDougall confirmed.

He told journalists that the company hadn’t crunched the numbers of the potential losses.

“We are busy with the financial estimation of what it will cost. There are no numbers yet. The cost of the withdrawal from the market is at our expense,” he said.

MacDougall added that he is not aware of any civil suits on the matter.

Earlier Anthony Clark, equity analyst at Vunani Securities, told Fin24 that the knee jerk reaction by markets was mainly due to the uncertainty of how much the losses could cost Tiger Brands.

Clark added that Tiger Brands did the right thing by acting quickly on the announcement, ordering products to be withdrawn from shelves.

Safety first

MacDougall said that the first priority for Tiger Brands is to remove the contaminated products from consumers.

“We have put personal health and safety above all else. The financial cost to the industry is a consequence of what we are doing, but we are putting the health and safety of consumers first.”

Tiger Brands had followed protocols by government and regulators to control the outbreak. “The results show we have a high standard of quality controls at our sites.” Going forward these protocols will have to increase to ensure a zero detection of listeria. 

MacDougall added that the company was working with regulators to get the factories ready as soon as possible.

He said it was “devastating” that Tiger Brands products were associated with the outbreak.  “Food safety is a priority for Enterprise Foods. We place consumer health and safety above all else.”

No links to deaths

During a questions session MacDougall said there was no evidence to show there were direct links between the 180 listeriosis deaths and the products of Tiger Brands.

“There is no direct correlation between our products and listeria deaths. We are unaware about any direct link. There is no direct link between any of the deaths and our products,” he emphasised.


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