Fri, 29/07/2016 - 13:00
Current Issue 77
By making strategic investments in its production processes, equipment and training, Butler Foods has positioned itself to capitalise on new growth opportunities in South Africa’s convenience food market
Innovative Convenience Foods with a Premium Taste
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Having shifted its focus to the convenience food market in response to the growing trend for quick and easy mealtimes, Butler Foods has witnessed exponential growth over the past five years of operation.
As a young, South African-based player in the convenience food market, the Company has continually placed emphasis on sourcing high quality ingredients for its assortment of tasty meals and sauces to stand out in the ever-saturating market; with its two staple brands, Bread & Butler and Great Scott, quickly gaining national appeal.
Celebrating its fifth birthday back in May, 2016, the Company has built the foundations on which to grow its product lines with the help of a research and development (R&D) team committed to developing innovative premium tasting foods.
“Butler Foods has progressed from humble beginnings to exponential growth in just five years, with a total staff complement of 93 today,” says Francois Mouton, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). “Our success is measured by the level of service we provide to our customers. Customer satisfaction and product development are what we pride ourselves on. Our customers know from the first day they do business with us that they will be greeted by a friendly face and treated with respect; and their orders will be handled correctly, quickly and efficiently.”
This relationship with each and every customer is based on trust and respect, an ethos which is represented in the Company logo’s tagline, ‘how may we serve you?’
“It is our duty to continuously monitor market trends and make changes in accordance with the needs of our customers. Therefore, we listened to our customers and shifted our focus to the convenience market, offering meals in both frozen and chilled formats. Meanwhile, we continue to work hard to uphold great relationships with our clients; depending on them to provide us with regular, honest feedback so that we can continue to meet their needs,” explains Mouton.
As a manufacturer and distributor of wholesale confectionery, convenience foods – including baked goods – and sauces, Butler foods is proud to distribute its products to more than 200 customers daily; with customers comprising the likes of schools, universities, restaurants, business canteens, hospitals and caterers.
Many South African households want an approach to cooking that better suits their busy modern lifestyle, and Butler Foods strives to be a Company at the heart of this trend; manufacturing hearty, wholesome, tasty and convenient meals.
In order to do this the Company has invested in the development of its own in-house manufacturing and distribution system. Following strict food safety standards, the Company prides itself on upholding the highest quality processes and administrative procedures throughout the value chain, from the initial concept right through to finished product. “By streamlining our internal processes, we are able to serve our customers with the utmost efficiency at all times,” Mouton states.
“Technology is a crucial pillar of our long-term growth strategy. Our custom-made software allows us to continuously improve our manufacture efficiencies now, and in the future. This system also aims to automate quality and food safety processes. Moreover, we have a CRM system which allows us to interact with our customers easily and in a professional manner. Meanwhile, we are also busy working on an app that will ultimately allow clients to manage their own orders; reaffirming our desire to be recognised as a transparent and honest business partner.”
Supporting its software is a whole host of investments in the latest equipment, including the recently installed state-of-the-art blast chillers and freezers. “Further aligning with our culture and values, we have also improved our packaging vastly thanks to our dedicated product development team for R&D,” he says.
Over the next 12 months, Butler Foods will continue to build on this already solid foundation to generate new product ideas of an equally high quality that complement its already impressive range of products. “Additionally, we strive to perfect our existing range by testing ingredients, monitoring health trends and new tastes. By demonstrating our unwavering commitment levels to customer satisfaction, we hope to look at taking on the development of client-specific products as well,” the CEO confirms.
With the Company only in its fifth year of operation, there is still plenty of room for growth and development of its brands and bolstering the awareness of its core product range in new regions. “Another key focus will be to build brand awareness of the Great Scott range of sauces in particular, and we have recently started the plans to expand our existing sauce production plant to be able to cope with the projected increase in sales,” says Mouton.
As a Level 2 BEE Company – with 90 percent of its workforce comprised of previously disadvantaged individuals – Butler Foods has always been keen to have a far-reaching impact in terms of social upliftment and empowerment. The CEO details: “Butler has a very unique employee culture and is something we are all very proud of. A very loyal and dedicated staff base incorporated within this culture provides a fantastic working atmosphere.
“To this end, we are incredibly excited about our new initiative, the Butler Academy, which will provide training opportunities for our staff and help them individually progress to new career heights.”
With a dedicated workforce and training programme in place, supported by the wider continuous improvement strategies of the business, the Company hopes to be an attractive entity for local and international distributors alike.
Mouton concludes: “We are currently on the lookout for international distributors. Strategic relationships with our suppliers enable us to share our vision with them and exactly what we stand for.
“Ultimately, our goal is to produce higher volumes and reach a larger number of retailers with our tasty brands; and our significant growth in the past five years shows how keen we are to reach this target.”