Dairy with a green message

Its impressive environmental credentials – it has the lowest carbon footprint in South Africa. Coega Dairy has empowerment credentials through its Coega Empowerment Trust, which will distribute its value among developing rural farmers, and dairy farm and factory workers.

Coega Dairy in Port Elizabeth has attained a status unmatched by any other dairy in South Africa – it has the lowest carbon footprint, and it is all thanks to the design of its ultra-high temperature processing plant and the use of the latest dairy technology.

The company implements OneStep™ technology, which consumes 50% less energy, water and chemicals, produces 65% less effluent than similar factories, and its carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by 40%, which is lower than the world’s average.

According to Coega Dairy chief executive Dr Victor Korsten, the number of times a factory processes milk determines the quality of milk produced “Milk is highly perishable and the less you process the product, the better the quality. With this technology the product is only processed once which improves quality, reduces operating costs, reduces carbon emissions and optimises the utilisation of capacity. .”

Although the company has an eco-friendly label, Korsten says it is not the company’s biggest selling point. The company is proud to have the Coega Empowerment Trust as a key share holder. The Trust is made up of developing rural farmers in the Eastern Cape, farm and factory workers who as shareholders will share in the success of the company. “The relationship Coega Dairy has with dairy farmers through the Amadlelo Projects Trust, creates a significant opportunity for developing farmers as Coega Dairy is able to provide the off-take for the milk and therefore assisting with the long term sustainability of the farmers.”

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Supporting communities and developing farmers

Coega collects milk from these farmers, who are as far as Alice, Fort Hare, Shilo and Keiskamma. “That’s where all the development in terms of our developing farmers is taking place.”

Since it started operating two years ago, the company has created 220 direct jobs, and 30% of staff are female workers and 80% are black.

Korsten says the company’s community policy is based on two pillars. The first is to support the development of rural farmers as a regular buyer of milk. The second is to support the residential communities of its factory workers. Some of the plans include the development of factory shops to sell the products to the community which will be managed and run by those communities. Coega Dairy will provide business training and support, as well as infrastructure. Another community project will be to support and educate the community in terms managing the environment through recycling. . “We are quite keen to support our communities in terms of projects that can be sustainable.”

Origins

Coega Dairy originated by a few dairy farmers in Eastern Cape who always wanted to add value to the milk they produce. When the idea turned into a reality, it became a unique venture in that the factory would be owned by the producers. All farmer shareholders are obliged to supply milk to the Dairy which assures sufficient milk supply.

The farmers have 60% of the company while the remainder is allocated to the Coega Empowerment Trust.

The Industrial Development Corporation is the primary funder of the trust, The IDC’s funds and those of other shareholders provided equity capital with which the company built its factory in the Coega Industrial Development Zone. “We approached the IDC because we knew they always had an appetite for agro-processing and they always want to involve community in some way.”

Developments

In October 2012, Coega Dairy entered into a landmark partnership with Famous Brands a JSE listed company, As a result, Coega Cheese was established, of which Coega Dairy and the Coega Empowerment Trust owns 49%. This enabled the company to construct a modern cheese- plant on the same facility as Coega Dairy. At present, it produces mozzarella cheese for Famous Brand’s pizza company, Debonairs.

Korsten acknowledges that the company, only two years in operation, has to be financially sound before taking on new developments. As part of the consolidation process the company needs to stabilise its market position, improve logistics and production efficiencies. Korsten is positive that Coega Dairy has contributed in a positive manner to the economy of the Eastern Cape and has a great future ahead.

  • This article was published on the Industrial Development Corporation website
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