Last month, the German VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association held a symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa, for a delegation of 13 high-profile and diversified member companies to present their products and services to the South African food processing and packaging industry.
The companies, which also shared their knowledge and expertise, included manufacturing company KHS Manufacturing, technology supplier GEA and German engineering company Langguth. The symposium, which also focused on water and wastewater engineering in South Africa, was attended by more than 90 local food and beverage companies.
South Africa is one of the most important markets for food processing and packaging technology in Africa because, in the past ten years, the yearly value of food and beverages produced in the country has increased by nearly 70% to €24-billion, says VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association market development head Martina Claus.
These figures reflect the growing demand for processed and packaged foods and beverages, owing to the increasing prosperity and consumption of a growing population, as well as efforts to increase added value in food processing and the export of foodstuffs, she adds.
“Some of the companies have subsidiaries in South Africa. The event helped the companies to better understand the local markets and their potential, the investment climate and current demand for technology, as well as the requirements for training and qualification,” notes Claus.
She adds that German machinery manufacturers have proven to be competent and reliable partners where adapted and sustainable processing technology is needed. Innovative packaging concepts are also required and South Africa needs this technology. “As partners, we would like to win entrepreneurs and investors in the South African food and beverage processing industry.”
According to Claus, the proper handling of food and beverages requires great technological skill and experience.
“German manufacturers are not only the global market leaders but can also look back on a long tradition in these disciplines. In 2016, they supplied machines and equipment worth about €500-million to Africa. This is about 7% of their total global export volume.”
Claus tells Engineering News that, despite the economic challenges, sales of packaged food and soft drinks in South Africa have continued to achieve steady volume in recent years – dairy, baked goods and rice, pasta and noodles remained the largest categories in value terms.
“One of the main drivers behind the growth of packaged food is consumer demand for convenience. Consumers are increasingly pressed for time and are looking for products that are quick and easy to prepare,” she elaborates.
Claus also mentions that the most important task for these companies as they seek partnerships and business in Africa is creating customised solutions.
“Our member companies cooperate closely with clients to develop precisely the technology that meets their specific needs. This includes a comprehensive services and maintenance range, as well as training operating staff.”
Whenever food is produced, quality and safety are crucial. One of the foremost elements for product safety is the hygienic design of the machinery. This includes the design and execution of cleaning processes, as the cleaning of machinery and equipment is a complex procedure.
“The German companies at the symposium offer tailor-made, reliable machines and South Africa, as the most developed country industrywise in Africa, could benefit from the technology and services offered by these companies,” concludes Claus.