South Africa’s agribusiness, GWK launched a proudly South African farmer brand, Nature’s Farms, that will compete with the country’s other food producers.
The firm also unveiled the new GWK Farm Foods wheat mill, pasta plant and biscuit factory in Modder River, an investment which cost approximately 400-million rand ($27 million) and took about 30-months.
Competing with industry giants like Tiger Brands and RCL Foods, the subsidiary will produce ranges of pasta and biscuits, white and brown bread flours, cake flour and maize meal from the new highly innovative and efficient agri-processing plant.
"We are glad to say at this point in time we are ready to go into the retail stores, we are in the wholesale stores and then also look at the industrial market,” said Eddie Ueckermann, Executive Manager for GWK Farm Foods.
GWK emphasised that this investment was not a risk for them, referring to the water crisis as it is predominantly irrigation farmers.
"GWK is much more diverse, it’s much more based on irrigation, our dominant production areas are 100 000 hectares of irrigated land so much more constant production, sustainability, those are the things we pride ourselves in - specifically if you look at the current drought, it doesn't hit us that bad because it's irrigated.”
However the company did acknowledge that those affected the hardest by the drought are the livestock farmers, of which 70 per cent of GWK farmers are.
Of the notable guests at the launch was Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, MEC Mzwandile Masina who applauded GWK for creating over 350 jobs during construction and about 100 permanent jobs.
"At the core of the NDP is the issues of dealing with poverty, unemployment and inequality We think that this factory has the potential to significantly contribute towards ensuring that we deal with these triple challenges that continue to face us as government,” said Masina.
“Nature’s Farms is a true South African farmer brand. GWK is owned by farmers and we are involved at every step of the production process, from supplying inputs to farmers, supporting farmers with the latest in trends and technology, and ensuring the best channels to market for products from the farm,” said Pieter Spies, Managing Director of GWK.
“The new brand’s origin on the farm is celebrated with its packaging that showcases farming in a very unique way. To honour our roots, each product line is also named after one of the farms where the raw materials are sourced,” Spies added.
The new Nature’s Farms products will be available in major retail outlets in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the Northern Cape within a month, with plans to extend the range to include more products from the farm in the near future.