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Food Ingredients Fine food ingredients


Fine food ingredients Editorial: Lauren Grey Production: Chris Bolderstone

Sunspray Food Ingredients, South Africa’s largest producer of spray-dried food products has been operating within the local market for more than fifty years. However, the company’s biggest milestone came in 2006 when Managing Director, David Watson sold off half of the business and diversified its product range.

Sunspray Food Ingredients was formally established in 2006 by Managing Director, David Watson who – after 62 years of trading under the Nutritional Foods brand - decided to reinvent the company and diversify its product offerings. Nutritional Foods was originally founded in 1944 as a South African manufacturing and marketing company, aimed at producing powdered foodstuffs for refugees. In 1957, the company’s first spray drying tower was erected on its site in Industria, followed by a second tower in the 1960’s; this allowed the company to expand its product range, entering the instant coffee market, and by 1970 Nutritional Foods had become the first company in South Africa to produce coffee creamers on contract for other companies. Subsequent to its growing success, the company further enhanced its product range in 1980 when it purchased


Clifton Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd and entered the consumer product market for the first time; manufacturing powdered soft drinks, soya-based soups and stews, milk blends, hot chocolate drink powders and desserts.Furthermore, in 1998 Nutritional Foods purchased Funa Foods, doubling its size in the catering market, and as part of the deal, acquired a modern processing plant in Klerksdorp. Following this acquisition, the company consolidated the manufacture of all its catering products in Klerksdorp, while the Industria factory concentrated on contract manufacturing and the production of spray-dried food ingredients and retail products.

REBRAND With the Klerksdorp and Industria factories manufacturing different products for different markets, it was soon decided to run the sites completely separately, and towards the end

Sunspray Food Ingredients

of 2005 a BEE company, Imuniti Holdings Ltd., offered to buy the Catering Division business. As part of the sale agreement, the new owners acquired the name Nutritional Foods and the remaining business was rebranded and renamed Sunspray Food Ingredients (Pty) Ltd, reflecting its business activities more accurately; focusing on contract manufacturing and food ingredients with spray-drying being its core technology. The company now consists of two divisions; its original factory at Industria and a second factory in Bronkhorstspruit, acquired in 2005 by Nutritional Foods after purchasing Ovipro, an egg processing business. Managing Directing, David Watson tells IndustrySA more about the rebrand: “Ultimately the big change came in 2006 when I sold off half of the business, with that the Nutritional Foods name went. “It made sense because the company had become more

and more involved with spray drying and ingredients, so I changed the name to Sunspray Food Ingredients. “Literally, from 2006 we reinvented ourselves and have become one of the foremost ingredient manufacturers in South Africa and the leader in spray dried products.” Watson, who has been involved in the food industry since leaving university, has a 47% shareholding in Sunspray and says that his desire to ‘do something on his own’ is what fuelled him to buy into the business. “As I was approaching 40, I decided I wanted to do something on my own; I was able to get a Merchant Bank to back me, that’s when we bought the company. The bank still has shares but I am the biggest shareholder.” Sunspray is now South Africa’s largest producer of spraydried products and the company services almost every food manufacturer in the country, “Worldwide there is plenty of opposition for each product line we have, but there’s



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Sunspray Food Ingredients no one in South Africa that can produce the diversity of products that we do,” says Watson. The company’s diverse product portfolio includes caramel powders, meat flavours, fat powders, creamers, fruit and vegetable powders and cheese powders to name a few.

PRODUCTION FACILITIES Sunspray has extensive manufacturing facilities spread across its two sites. On the 1.7 hectares of land in Industria, there are five production spray driers as well as a pilot plant spray drier used for research and development purposes. Apart from the spray driers there are also extensive blending facilities in Industria and a varied range of packing equipment which enables the company to provide a comprehensive service for its clients. In support of its production facilities there is also a quality control laboratory on site manned by qualified personnel. On the Bronkhorstspruit site, there are two main production spray driers. In addition to this an old small spray-drier has been recently commissioned in an isolated area to run products with pungent odours, such as onion

and garlic powders. The Bronkhorstspruit site was originally designed for egg processing only, but now many other products are also spray dried on both of the towers. Spread across both of its manufacturing sites, Sunspray has 150 full time employees, the majority of which are in manufacturing and support services such as quality assurance, quality control, logistics and engineering services. Nearly 40 members of its staff have tertiary education qualifications and approximately 30% of its employees have been with the company for longer than ten years. In order to cater for fluctuations in demand, particularly in the contract manufacturing division, Sunspray also employs numerous contract workers. The number can vary from 50 to 100 and currently the company is giving employment to approximately 80 contract workers. Some of the other site services such as security and cleaning are contracted out to third party service providers. Furthermore, as part of its corporate social investment, Sunspray has contracted out all its local transport requirements to a BEE company, MK Transport, who now also handle all of Sunspray’s off-site warehousing needs.

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DD WILLIAMSON Sunspray’s biggest division by far is that of food ingredients, for which all of its products are marketed by a team of marketing executives, irrespective of where they are manufactured. The food ingredients product range is extensive and consists of meat flavours, fat powders, caramel powders, fruit and vegetable powders, citrus oil concentrates, milk blends, creamers, cheese powders, flavours (under licence) and egg powders (whole egg, albumen and yolk powders). Apart from the main products there are also some interesting miscellaneous products such as honey powder, paprika powder, fenugreek powder, molasses, flavour carrier, cloud, vinegar powder, soy sauce powder and Worcestershire sauce powder. All of the above are spray dried and/or blended powder products. All of Sunspray’s food ingredients are marketed under the Sunspray brand with the exception of liquid caramels which are marketed on behalf of DD Williamson, who manufacture these products in Swaziland. Sunspray has marketed DD Williamson’s liquid caramels for a number of years and due to its excellent service, the company has recently been awarded marketing and distribution of DDW’s Natural Colours range.


Watson says that the company’s relationship with DD Williamson has been ‘extremely successful’ and being awarded marketing and distribution of yet another product range is ‘fantastic news’. “Apart from buying caramel liquor from DDW, we have represented them by marketing their liquid caramels within South Africa for a number of years; this got us into the beverage industry quite strongly. “We’ve done such a good job at marketing their liquid caramels they have asked us to take on their other Natural Colours range, which we will market to both existing and new customers.”

AFRICAN EXPANSION With the inclusion of Nutritional Foods, Sunspray Food Ingredients has, in effect, been the country’s spray-drying innovator for more than fifty years. However, the company’s next big venture is expansion into the African market, which Watson says is going ‘pretty well so far’. “We have some products particularly geared for the African market, mainly meat flavours, caramel flavours and tomato powders. Our customers in Africa produce soups and stews, and this has become a very big market for us going forward with our expansion. “The other product we are looking to take into Africa at

Sunspray Food Ingredients the moment is cheese powder, mainly for the snack industry which is growing pretty well at the moment.” Aside from this, Sunspray has also been involved with international exports such as its most recent venture into Europe, “We are doing pretty well in Africa as far as exports are concerned, but we have also entered the international market. “Although our international ventures are fairly small at the moment, we are still very excited about what the future will hold for this side of the business, for example we recently did our first export of fruit powders into Europe.”


“Literally, from 2006 we reinvented ourselves and have become one of the foremost ingredient manufacturers in South Africa and the leader of spray dried products.”

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