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Operations

ICYMI: Search for fruit factory buyer continues

The door is not yet closed on Langeberg & Ashton Foods and the owner of the Western Cape fruit canning factory, Tiger Brands, is still talking to potential buyers. This is according to the province’s premier, Alan Winde, who released a statement to say that he had attended his second meeting with company executives this week to discuss the factory’s future.

rooibos boost: Western Cape premier Alan Winde. Photo: Supplied
Western Cape premier Alan Winde. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“We welcome the news that there are now interested parties engaging with the company,” Winde said in his statement after he had attended the meeting alongside provincial minister of agriculture Ivan Meyer, provincial minister of finance and economic opportunities Mireille Wenger, and other stakeholders including Wesgro. Wesgro is the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Tiger Brands, as the owner of Langeberg & Ashton Foods, made national headlines recently for starting a 60-day consultation period on the possible closure of the factory following an “exhaustive process” to find a buyer since 2020. This included a grower consortium having failed to raise enough money to buy the factory.

Crime: Dr Ivan Meyer, the Western Cape minister of agriculture. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Western Cape minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Agri SA subsequently slammed the possible closure, saying it would have disastrous consequences for surrounding farmers and the local economy.

“The facility – one of the largest of its kind in Africa – is facing possible closure and, were this to happen, more than 4 000 jobs would be lost,” Winde also said in his statement. “We have been in regular contact … and Wesgro has been in constant contact with [Tiger Brands], with the aim of finding a lasting solution.”

Winde said that a process is again underway to sell the business so that its operations could continue, and Tiger Brands also made an appeal to other interested parties, who can demonstrate that they have sufficient working capital to keep the cannery operating as a going concern, to come forward.

Operations should continue

Mary-Jane Morifi, Tiger Brands’ chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer, told government officials that it is in the interest of all parties that the business is disposed of in a responsible manner and that ongoing operations will sustain the employment of permanent and seasonal employees.

“We will regularly communicate updates on the processes of seeking possible investors to save jobs in the Ashton area,” Meyer said.

“We are fully aware of the significant role that the factory plays in the region, in terms of job creation along the entire supply chain,” Wenger added. “Wesgro has been actively involved in discussions with the relevant parties and we continue to facilitate talks and engage with all stakeholders so that we can come to the best solution.”

ALSO READ: Ashton factory closure: ‘Our town will be a dead town’

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