An exciting initiative started in 2008 in the Western Cape, known as the Western Cape Fine Food Initiative (WCFFI). The organization was launched in response to the need for creating orderly marketing of processed food products and capability development for industry sustainability in the region.

The R1.5bn Halaal Industrial Park project in the Western Cape is the brainchild of WCFFI with a recently concluded 10-month feasibility study that has been lauded by all as the blueprint for future Halaal parks in South Africa.

As part of its national expansion, WCFFI changed its name to FOOD South Africa (Food SA) and recently expanded its footprint into the Eastern Cape, culminating in the inaugural meeting of FOOD SA Eastern Cape NPC (FOOD SA EC) that was held in Port Elizabeth on 15 August 2017.

The board was constituted by appointing 7 board members and 4 sub-committees were formed. The Senior Economist and Economic Development specialist, Derek Zimmerman, was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of FOOD SA EC.

The next day, 16 August 2017, a meeting was held with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the COEGA Development Corporation (CDC), to propose co-operation and funding on projects that were identified by FOOD SA EC for 2018.

FOOD SA projects impact the entire agro-processing value chain including primary production, value-add, post-harvest, supply chain, and market access.

Across South Africa, they represent 762 small to medium-sized food producing members in 7 provinces, with operating offices in 3 to cover the northern, central and coastal regions of South Africa. It is aggressively expanding with current staff and board members having a combined 127 years’ experience in agriculture, agro-processing, development finance and export development. Key projects they currently undertake include the following:

Consolidation Warehousing for local & international supply: FOOD SA has agreements with logistics partners to provide high value, processed food unique to South Africa to ensure cost-effective and professional delivery of members products globally.

Halal Industrial Park: FOOD SA as the project initiator, together with its strategic local and global partners, has finalised the feasibility study in May 2017 which will attract investors to this R1.5bn project.
I-Comply: A paperless food safety platform allowing food producers to apply this innovative technology to increase efficiencies and reduce costs in its end-to-end production process.

As part of its many strategic development projects, FOOD SA has already extended its reach into the Middle East, Europe, and Africa where a number of collaborative agreements are in the final stages of conclusion and will be announced soon. These agreements will benefit its members within the agro-processing value chain, including farmers, food manufacturers, logistics companies, packaging, and other service providers.

The pending agreement with the Sohar Port and Freezone of Oman on trade and investment within the agro-processing sector is one such exciting development, a culmination of discussions facilitated by the Department of Trade and Industry between the CEO of FOOD SA, Mr. Nazeem Sterras and Mr. Jamal Aziz, CEO of Sohar Port and Freezone.

The proposal concept is based on 3 key principles:

  1. Investment by South African food companies into the Sohar Port & Freezone Food Zone;
  2. Investment by Omani investors into South Africa’s food industrial parks and food hubs;
  3. South African food exporters will have incentivised access to the Sohar Food Zone.

The mutual benefit is the development of the SME sector, increased investments, the increase in exports and imports, an increase in manufacturing & industrialisation and increase in larger economic development. The impacts will be skills and technology transfer within the agro-processing sector and for South Africa specifically, poverty alleviation, job creation and broader economic development in this key sector.

Through the newly constituted FOOD SA Eastern Cape chapter, together with the relevant stakeholders, the national FOOD SA organization will further guide the growth of the South African agro-processing sector and related industries toward achieving worldwide recognition as a supplier of premium products and brands.