Agri SA welcomes the announcement that Tiger Brands will extend operations at its canning factory in Ashton, Western Cape. The decision is a vital reprieve for the sector and for the communities that rely on the facility for their livelihoods. It will also provide time for potential buyers to secure the necessary funding to save the factory.
In addition to the 4550 workers at the factory, this decision will secure the livelihoods of the farmers, more than 2000 permanent workers, and countless seasonal workers that also depend on the facility. But the threat is not over; this is a temporary reprieve, not a permanent solution as of yet.
It remains essential that the national and provincial governments support the producers and workers to find an effective solution. R200 – R300 million is a significant investment, and the consortium seeking to save the factory will require support to secure this funding.
The factory is the biggest in the country and its products occupy a niche position, bringing in hundreds of millions of rands in foreign currency. It sustains the Ashton community and if it were to close, approximately 300 farmers would have no alternative market for their produce. The factory is also the biggest single source of income for the Langeberg Municipality. Saving the factory is therefore as important for the success of the Agriculture and Agro-Processing Masterplan as it is for the health of the Ashton and Western Cape economies.
In light of all that is at stake, Agri SA will continue to monitor the situation and provide support to the affected farmers to ensure that the factory continues to operate for the sake of the communities of Ashton and Langeberg, and for all the workers throughout the agricultural value chain.
This latest update comes on the heels of the 9 June 2022 announcement by Tiger Brands that shocked personnel, producers, and clients by giving notice of a 60-day consultation period with the intention of closing down the facility.
The world-class factory plays a vital role in enabling South African canned fruit to share in the world market, where South Africa is, in fact, ranked in the top seven canning fruit countries in the world by production.
Talks were also held by Western Cape government and Tiger Brands to consider ways forward.