Selling with Education
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Josh Hyland
Advance Seed is striving for international expansion and internal improvements as it continues to align itself with parent company, AGT Foods; a global leader in the pulse processing and staple foods industries.
With a heritage dating back to 1966, it is Advance Seed’s prominence outside of South Africa that has proven most indicative of the Company’s success over the past five decades, shipping its vast range of produce to more than 50 countries around the world.
“Advance Seed’s portfolio of products and services extends through the agricultural value chain and offers its customers access to quality offerings; including crop production, cleaning, grading and processing, marketing and sales, as well as export of specialty crops to customers around the globe,” explains Dean Miller, Group Marketing, Advance Seed.
Buying industry-leading crops from producers within South Africa before exporting globally, Advance Seed supplies its customers with premium quality pulses, popcorn and grains, as well as pasture, forage and field crop seeds from South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Miller adds: “As Africa’s premier popcorn producer and processor, Advance Seed grows top quality American popcorn seed in the rich, fertile ground of Central-Southern Africa.
“The unique geography of the region allows Advance Seed to harvest new crop popcorn in January of each year, earlier than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere. Advance Seed’s state-of-the-art processing plant, packaging facilities and warehousing facilities enable the supply of butterfly and mushroom popcorn to the world year-round.”
Advance Seed’s core activities are centred around six divisions: the production and sale of forage seeds; the import and marketing of specialised turf seeds, pulses and legumes; the production of pollinated field seeds; the production and marketing of South Africa premium popcorn; the marketing of confectionery seeds and flours to the industrial and baking industry; and the production, sales and marketing of teff, peas and beans.
Underpinning its renowned range of products is an ethos that embraces high levels of collaboration and integration to ensure that its primary goals are achieved.
With the merchandising footprint of parent company AGT Foods, Advance Seed is able to reach the US, Turkey, Australia, China, India, Southern Africa, Europe and numerous other customers around the globe.
“When we collaborate, we form long-term partnerships. In addition to our products, we offer a service to train our clients and they provide us with feedback so that we can grow and develop our products,” explains Miller. “A good example is Hydromulch, which rehabilitates mining environments.
“We provide a mixture of seed with ballistic properties that work well
with hydro-seeding. Research has shown that the coated seed can do much better than the plain seed when established in rehab environments, making Hydromulch’s rehabilitation more successful.”
Partnerships with inter-industry associations, such as the Land Rehabilitation Society of Southern Africa, further ensures that the Company stays ahead of the industry curve and provides the correct products to support clients’ systems.
This, in turn, allows Advance Seed to promote and share knowledge with the wider sector, again in association with leading institutions.
“We publish on two platforms; namely academically (theses, journals and congresses) and publically (magazines),” Miller continues. “Our aim in publishing is to convey our research findings to the public, but also to get feedback from peers who might have insight from different research environments. In this way, we can educate while being educated.”
Contributing to the future of the agricultural domain in South Africa is a pivotal facet of what Advance Seed aims to achieve in leveraging its own operational successes over the years and is further compounded by its aforementioned research alongside universities.
“We not only get impartial results through our research, but have also successfully supported 10 postgraduate degrees,” Miller notes. “Our company serves the agricultural community, the mining sector and food industry.
“Solving our problem of degraded land through poor agricultural practices, industrial and mining practices will contribute to sustainable agriculture, restoration of a healthy environment and hopefully the participation of the community to live healthily in a healthy environment in a sustainable manner.”
Certainly not limited to an advisory or passive role in furthering the industry, extensive expenditure and investments are made to ensure the Company is proactively developing the levels of quality both within the business and the country at large.
“Advance Seed features a state-of-the-art seed coating plant which supplies enhanced coated seed to South African agricultural markets as well as export markets around the world,” says Miller. “This is the only high-speed computerised facility in South Africa that incorporates insecticides, anticides, nutrients, growth stimulants, fertilisers and inoculants to both turf and pasture seed to ensure optimal survival and growth. This seed is marketed under the Agricote brand in South Africa.”
Highest quality in mind
A major upgrade to the coating plant and further investment into the human resource dynamic of the business are just two examples of how Advance Seed is striving for even more concerted growth in the future; a philosophy and culture that is synonymous with the wider AGT Foods Group.
Its parent company is one of the largest lentil and pea splitting companies in the world and, as a trusted source for value-added processing of pulses and staple foods, the Group buys produce from farmers around its 29 facilities across Canada, the US, Turkey, China, Australia, India, Europe and South Africa before shipping them to more than 100 countries.
Miller says: “AGT Foods creates value for producers, quality products for customers and growth for shareholders. With production and storage facilities in eight countries on five continents, AGT Foods is a truly global leader in the pulse processing and staple foods industries.”
Capitalising on this foundation, the Company is now building its future strategy, which includes an increase in sales and services across a wider footprint as well as playing an increasingly essential role in sustainable agriculture and rehabilitation so that opportunities for people to eat healthily are more available.
Miller concludes: “Sustainable agriculture is based on management of the resources in the most efficient manner. This includes the protection of resources such as top soil and water.
“Our range of products include green manure crops, forage crops for animals and food crops for human consumption. A partnership with SA Cover Crop Solutions and the Grassland Society of Southern Africa provides us with the necessary interaction with experts in the various fields.
We also aim to source products that are GMO free and that can satisfy the conscientious consumer. These products are sourced with the highest quality in mind and our partners are like-minded.”