Kaap Agri in it to ‘bin’ it

Kaap Agri

KAAP Agri, the Paarl-based agribusiness services specialist, has ploughed a hefty R150 million into a sophisticated plastics manufacturing facility to broaden its manufacturing capabilities.

Kaap Agri is best known for its Agrimark retail outlets and its petrol and diesel sales network (under the The Fuel Company) – but the group also has interests in gain storage (Wesgraan), fruit and vegetable packaging as well as an existing  manufacturing component that revolves mainly around irrigation products.

The R150 million investment is a bold move for Kaap Agri, and entails kick starting a recently formed Brackenfell-based subsidiary called TEGO Plastics.

TEGO, which was formed late last year, specialises in the manufacturing of large format, injection moulded plastic products using state-of-the-art robotics and machinery. Kaap Agri even needed to commission one of the largest injection moulding machines available on the global market for the manufacturing facility (that will provide 33 new job opportunities).

TEGO will at first produce high-quality, food grade bulk bins for the agricultural market. But the group stressed there is an opportunity to manufacture additional solid form products at a later stage.

The TEGO Bulk Bin is a food safe, bulk bin which is used in the harvesting and post-harvesting processes of fresh fruit and vegetables. These bulk bins are essential to the Western Cape’s sprawling pome, citrus and stone fruit sectors.

Kaap Agri CEO Sean Walsh said the launch of TEGO Plastics was in line with the group’s strategy to diversify its manufactured product range and to offer more value to its agricultural customer base.

“With limited availability of new bins and product options it became clear to us that we could help address challenges producers face with the storage and transportation of fresh produce.”

Walsh added that Kaap Agri provided the ideal platform from which to launch such a product because of its already-established infrastructure and the relationships built up with farmers over more than a century.

He said TEGO’s durable bins performed well under different environmental conditions in various locations – “whether it’s under the blazing sun in an orchard, on a transport truck, in cold storage or in a packhouse.”

TEGO executive manager Edward Smith explained that some of the challenges fruit producers faced include damage to produce due to limited air flow, bruising because of the shape of the inside of the bins, sun damage as well as compatibility issues when moving bins with forklifts and pallet jacks.

“The transportation of fruit or vegetables from the field to the packhouse is possibly the most important part of the farming process. The difference between losing 6% and losing 10% of produce due to bruising or heat damage is huge, and it translates to a big difference on the bottom line.”

He said the design features of the TEGO Bulk Bin included a smoother inside to help eliminate bruising, a centre support structure to prevent warping and bulging (associated with heavy loads), unique drenching slots (to ensure better ventilation and draining) and a higher base for use of a standard pallet jack.