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Fresh Connections draws wide spectrum from African agriculture and beyond

Photo report PMA Fresh Connections South Africa 2019

The PMA’s Fresh Connections conference took place place last week in a rainy Cape Town.

Doing business in Africa was a strong focus at the conference, with Dr Johan van Deventer, general manager of Freshmark, giving tips to delegates, having overseen the opening of Freshmark Checkers stores in many African countries. Some countries are easier than others, with import tariffs and transport costs pushing up the cost of products. “Transport is a killer,” he notes, “it wasn’t that high when we started.”

The photo report is available here.

Freshmark is focusing on local production and he showed the statistics with satisfaction: in Zambia, for instance, 82% of fresh produce is now locally produced, much higher than when they started. In South Africa 98% of fresh produce is locally produced.

Brian Coppin of Food Lovers Market (right) pointed out that the attention on plant-based diets and the growth in vegetarianism and veganism “plays right into our hands”. He also recounted the positive reception from consumers to their plastic bag reduction.

Ayanda Kanana, CEO of the Johannesburg Market, talked about the identity crisis in which the Johannesburg Market found itself: was it a landlord or was it an active roleplayer in the fresh produce industry?

They have decided to be the latter and there are major infrastructure upgrades on the go at City Deep to create a Mandela Market Precinct with a packhouse for emerging farmers.

Sean Moolenschot of Savenda Global Capital Partners told delegates that the first sod is to be turned soon in Lusaka for Zambia’s first agent commission-based fresh produce market and the first, he said, outside South Africa. It is due to open in 2020 and will also comprise an aeroponics growing facility and commercial retail section. He pointed out the absurdity of South Africans declaring their intention to “expand into Africa”, as if it’s a separate continent.

The photo report is available here.

Dr Rutendo Hwindingwi of Deloitte used the examples of Muhammed Ali’s surprise triumph over George Foreman in the Congo and the Tanzanian Olympic marathoner John Stephen Akhwari to demonstrate the lessons he has gleaned into business success in Africa.

Dr Rutendo Hwindingwi channeling the spirit of Muhammed Ali for business success in Africa

Price discovery and the invaluable role of the fresh produce markets was a theme that recurred and a number of delegates expressed their appreciation of the existence of these outlets giving them an alternative to retailers.

The photo report is available here.

Charley Xu of Win-Chain and Peter Zhu of Pagoda gave delegates an overview of what their companies were sourcing and how they were reaching consumers in China, while Ruth McLennan of the Dairy Farm Group gave an overview of the broader Far Eastern picture. All emphasised the importance of full traceability.


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