President hails opening of a food processing plant in KZN

President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed the opening of a Tetra Pak food processing facility in KwaZulu-Natal.

The factory underwent an upgrade that forms part of a R500-million investment by Tetra Pak in the South African economy.

“Despite a strained domestic and global economic climate, this factory expansion demonstrates that South Africa continues to be an attractive destination for investors,” he said.

Part of the Presidential Investment Mobilisation Drive

Ramaphosa said the investment would in turn form part of the Presidential Investment Mobilisation Drive.

“It is a pleasure to be here at the reopening of this expanded Tetra Pak facility that will support our goals as government and business. Which is to create jobs and drive innovation. To also promote localisation and advance the low-carbon, circular economy,” stated Ramaphosa.

The president said when they set a R1,2-trillion investment target in 2018, they knew it was an ambitious one. They also knew that investment decisions often take several years to come to fruition.

Promising signals of investment commitment

“Today’s launch is one of many promising signals of investment commitments being practically realised,” he said.

“A substantial number of other commitments were made by domestic and international investors. They have resulted in brick-and-mortar projects across South Africa since 2018.

“This gives us renewed impetus as government to forge ahead with our partnership as government and business. To overcome challenges in the energy, logistics and other sectors.”

Export potential of R500-million annually

Tetra Pak has announced that through this expansion, it will be exporting products to the continent. This export potential amounts to approximately R500-million annually.

“This is very timely, given South Africa’s recent commencement of trade under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area or AfCFTA. Exports to the rest of Africa already include Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Nigeria and Kenya. We have no doubt this expanded facility will be able to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA.”

Tetra Pak is a global leader in packaging and processing solutions for the food industry. It  has had a presence and manufacturing footprint in South Africa since 1963.

The factory was originally built 45 years ago, in 1979.

Less carbon-intensive production processes

“Its scope has broadened over the years as Tetra Pak adopted new technologies. From the early days of producing standard packaging solutions like the humble milk carton. It has adopted new technologies to [adapt to] global efforts towards less carbon-intensive production processes,” he said.

“Now Tetra Pak South Africa has reached a new milestone. This being the only facility in Africa that will produce carton aseptic packaging. …[The product will be] for the domestic market and for export to the continent.

“This is a boost of confidence in our localisation programme. I’m pleased to hear that Tetra Pak is now under the Proudly South African umbrella. Having received your certification last week.”

Set to produce 80% of its packaging material locally

Ramaphosa said the expansion of this facility will enable Tetra Pak to produce 80% of its packaging material locally. This compared to approximately 60% in the past. Most of the material sold locally was imported from other Tetra Pak facilities around the world.

“As more manufacturing capacity and expertise is retained here, new industries, businesses and value chains emerge and get supported on South African soil. As a consequence, our efforts to build a more inclusive economy are boosted.”

Job creation for locals

“Localisation is about so much more than improving domestic industrial capacity. Localisation also ensures that jobs are created in South Africa, and that jobs are retained in South Africa.

“I am told that this upgraded plant will now have the capacity to produce 1,8 billion packs annually. It will be utilising the labour of 99 employees,” stated Ramaphosa.

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