INDUSTRY FOCUS: AGRICULTURE
ready to microwave or ready to eat. We want to control the value chain and make the chain from us to the consumer as short as possible. We would prefer it if the only connection between us and the consumer is the supermarket. This is so we can keep control of quality and so we can add value for the consumer,” he says. Vertically integrating the chain in this way brings both financial and quality control elements to the Laastedrif business and makes for a more complete offering for customers around the world. GROWING FRUIT EXPORT Currently, Laastedrif is looking to grow its export offering, especially with fruit. The current economic climate is not creating an environment conducive for exponential business growth but Cillié emphasises the importance of finding opportunities wherever possible.
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“We haven’t experienced any real slowdown. The biggest challenge is worldwide. You must gear yourself for change. If there’s drought, you must prepare and come up with a solution; with politics and economic factors, there’s always an opportunity to be found; you must never stop thinking, you always have to search for new opportunities,” he says. “There are extremes that you can’t control and you can’t focus on those. You must control the factors you can or you’ll never move forward. “Our business is split into two legs; vegetables and fresh fruits. With vegetables, at this stage, we would rather add value and grow business with our current clients such as our clients in the UK and in Africa with local supermarket groups. The demand from our current client base is so big that we don’t need to grow elsewhere when we have such big opportunities already in existence. With
fruit, we have an export company with some other farmers and that company is looking at new opportunities in the Middle East and Far East.” Fresh fruit export to ‘traditional markets’ in Europe has been slowly declining over the past three decades, now representing around 43% of all fresh fruit exports. This is why development of partnerships in emerging markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea is helping to boost fresh fruit exports, a sector which contributes half of all agricultural exports and brought in around R26 billion in 2015. Even with development of fruit exports, Laastedrif will not be looking to increase its acreage at this time as there is significant room for expansion on current land. “We can grow our business by 40% in a relatively short period (next couple of years) on the land we have so I don’t
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