Quality Foods from South Africa
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Targeting manufacturers, wholesalers, supermarkets and the world’s leading retailers across 42 export markets from its strategic base in Cape Town, FMCG marketer, Berfin is hoping to increase its production capacities and export reach even further with the help of its aptitude for continuous improvement and innovation.
Founded more than 20 years ago, and borne from the need for a vehicle to capitalise of the booming South African FMCG manufacturing industry, the Company has firmly established the international connections needed to take its brands to the next level and place the nation’s best-loved foods in foreign markets.
“We have a very well-established high quality food manufacturing industry here in South Africa, and we quickly identified the potential to take South African food products to new markets. The UK was our first foreign market and remains among our established trading partners, with North America, Europe, Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and Africa today,” recalls Grant McGregor, Managing Director (MD), Berfin.
Now part of Libstar Group of Companies, which comprises a large group of FMCG manufacturers and an extensive range of food and beverage products – from branded to private label products – Berfin continues to look for ways to retain its position as one of South Africa’s leading food marketers. By closely monitoring taste profiles and trends of customers around the world, and matching this with high quality products, the Company has maintained its reputation and good relationships which have stood the test of time.
“From a logistics point of view, our unique positioning in Cape Town allows us to reach customers in both West and East Africa and this has seen Berfin access trade agreements with various customers across the continent. By continuously adjusting our products to new taste profiles, we have been successful in unlocking new growth opportunities over the years,” he confirms.
“Add to this our certifications and compliance with the regulations set out in the markets in which we operate, including being fully FDA-approved and compliant to EU standards, we have become a supplier of choice who remains flexible and adaptable to client needs.
“South Africa has a reputation in the food industry of packing high quality products, in world-class facilities, and at the same time being very competitive. Most raw materials are grown and sourced in South Africa, which has some of the highest quality agricultural standards.”
A preferred exporter offering turnkey solutions from concept to consumption, Berfin is keen to deliver on its reputation as a highly skilled institution that can develop, source, pack and deliver branded, as well as private label, options for most high quality food and beverage products. Leveraging its specialist team of in-house food specialists, the Company is capable of manufacturing tailor-made and packaged solutions for international markets.
Drawing attention to one of many brands in the Company’s repertoire, McGregor highlights: “Among our most popular products is the Ina Paarman range; offering a diverse range of high quality dressings, sauces, spices and baking mixtures. Developed by one of South Africa’s most well-known food personalities, the brand has gained a loyal following in many countries around the world. Meanwhile, in the beverage segment we are one of the leading exporters of wine from South Africa, blended and packed by our own wine makers in our sister Company, African Pride Wines. We have also just re-launched the Sunripe range of tetra pack fruit juices with a fresh new look.”
He adds: “The trend towards western-style food products and the growing middle-class in Africa have played significant roles in our market decisions; along with food television programmes and prominent chefs also influencing consumer spending habits and tastes. We work with our customers across Africa to develop products that suit their taste profile, and offer attractive pack sizes at the appropriate price point.”
Elsewhere, the Group’s divisions span confectionery, healthy snacks, frozen meat and dairy; with a range of other branded products available through Berfin’s subsidiary companies; most recently including the Gold Crest range, as well as a range of perishable products available via airfreight.
“In addition to making sure that we adhere to the strict requirements of each export market, our in-house food technologists are continually exploring new product ideas and identifying ways to diversify our revenue stream in line with the latest industry trends,” explains McGregor.
Also supported by an in-house logistics team, Berfin has a staff size of 40 – mostly locally sourced – employees today, who speak a combined total of eight different languages; enabling the team to communicate more effectively with customers and suppliers.
“Equally important is our relationship with our international distributors and so we regularly attend all the important food shows around the world; including The Anuga Food Fair, Gulf Food and the upcoming SIAL in Paris, where we will exhibit, network and showcase our new and refreshed range of products,” he adds.
The combination of exceptional people, the very best suppliers, and an ongoing innovation strategy to boost speed-to-market has resulted in Berfin’s prominent market position today.
“I believe that this winning blend and the diversity and traceability of our product range from a regulatory point of view will support our target to become the go-to Company for export in South Africa’s FMCG industry. In line with this, we will continue to increase our African footprint by distributing into new countries, ensuring seamless supply chain management,” McGregor says.
“We are currently in the process of becoming ISO 9001 compliant, an achievement which we will proudly add to our already extensive list of international standard compliances and accreditations.”
He concludes: “Of course, none of this would be possible without the continuous support of our packaging and manufacturing partners. I would like to thank them for their support on this journey with us as a critical growth component that has helped grow our business into the leader it is today. As we grow our aspirations, our partner companies will continue to feel the benefits of a strong relationship with Berfin, as well as experiencing continued growth.”