Top Quality from Farm to Plate
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
As the first Pork 360 approved abattoir in South Africa, Winelands Pork has seemingly mastered its profession in the country, but refuses to rest on its laurels as a new slaughter line and a continuous refinement of its processes ensures even more sustained long-term progression.
Founded in 2001 when a couple of farmers saw an opportunity to start their own abattoir, the vast operations that exist today are a far cry from the few hundred pigs a day enjoyed 15 years ago.
Now boasting an export abattoir of more than 1,600 pigs each day, the second largest pig abattior in the country – with an equally extensive international reach – is right on course to meeting its ultimate objectives; driven by a shareholder structure conducive to the most streamlined of strategies.
“Winelands Pork is owned by its shareholders who are all farmers producing pigs for the Company, hence the fact that we only have good, consistent, quality meat,” Winelands’ Managing Director, Ken Polley explains. “We sell fresh carcasses, primals, value-added products as well as pre-packed merchandise for selected retailers, but only use pigs from our own shareholders to guarantee constant high quality and safe meat for our customers.”
Continuous improvement is now the name of the game for Winelands Pork, with a major upgrade to its slaughter line in the past 24 months paving the way for increased production capacities, an extension of its truck fleet to speed up deliveries, and the attainment of the all-important Pork 360 accreditation.
“Pork 360 is a certified quality assurance programme developed by the South African Pork Producers Organisation,” adds Polley. “This programme starts at the piggeries where they are registered and audited in terms of traceability, waste management, bio-security, welfare and housing management.
“Our SAPPO initiated, PORK 360 ASSURED programme ensures top quality from farm to plate.”
Meaningful and measurable contribution
As a nationally-significant supplier of pork carcases and primal cuts, the natural next step for the Company was to look further afield into the SADC region, a philosophy which has come to fruition via an expanded footprint embracing Namibia, Angola, DRC, Malawi and Sierra Leone.
An even wider influence in the Far East, in locations such as Vietnam and Hong Kong, epitomises the quality of product achieved by the Company, and Operations Manager, Henry Shaw firmly attributes the success to the business’ internal structure.
“We value our staff and therefore have a very stable staff compliment,” he says. “This in itself has given us the ability to continue production on a daily basis within a volatile and changing world. Upgrading our facilities to keep up with current technology for the demanding market has been vital.
“There are a lot of in-house training programmes in the Company and we constantly strive to improve people and skills training. Some of our employees have been with the Company from the very first day.”
The same ethos of enrichment emanates outside of Winelands’ core operations as well, with a social and ethics programme in place exclusively to ensure the reinvestment of the Company’s success into the communities supporting it.
Shaw continues: “We strive to make a meaningful and measurable contribution within the sectors of operation; to develop partnerships as well as relationships with Government and communities and other foundations.
“Our social and ethics policy ensures that we achieve our goals and objectives which are supported by top management.”
Creating such a positive atmosphere on the periphery creates the ideal platform from which to build internally, and a whole host of plant improvements, new equipment – including a new slaughter line, dehairing machine and derinders – upgrades, revamps and administration programmes have set the tone for the Company’s current proactive ambitions.
Incorporated within this, Winelands’ supply chain management is also looked at and refined on an ongoing basis, as a key element of its efficiency goals.
Shaw notes: “Your supply chain management is very important to running an abattoir efficiently and cost effectively as it is a low-margin, high-volume industry. Our shareholders are our suppliers who ensure consistent supply at the highest level of quality, and we are currently expanding one of our supply farms which will result in 5,000 pigs per week from this farm alone.
“We currently outsource distribution outside of the province and will continue to do so in the near future.”
Having refined all facets of the organisation, from shareholders down to the communities in which it operates, Winelands can now positively look towards the next 15 years of development; kick-started by the adoption of new technologies and techniques to increase productivity and decrease input costs, and compounded by an increase in healthier animals in order to produce the best end product possible.
Polley concludes: “Our aim is to increase production by adding more piggeries and to be well established in the export markets, with an added objective of possibly processing our own pork products in the future.”