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Futurelife opens new R75m manufacturing facility in Dube TradePort SEZ

Futurelife's new facility in the Dube TradePort SEZ, in KwaZulu-Natal

Photo by Creamer Media's Shadwyn Dickinson

5th October 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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South African health foods manufacturer Futurelife, wholly owned by food and beverage company PepsiCo South Africa, has opened its new manufacturing facility in the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone (SEZ), in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The R75-million modern factory, located near the King Shaka International Airport, has been designed to streamline production processes, enhancing efficiency and flexibility to better meet the evolving needs of the company’s customer base. The facility will also have a design studio for developing new products. 

"The new factory embodies our dedication to contributing positively to the local community and ultimately the broader economy,” PepsiCo South Africa commercial VP and former Futurelife MD Mark Bunn said at the launch of the factory on October 5.

Futurelife GM Mike Dos Santos said the R75-million investment in relocating operations from Pinetown to the Dube TradePort SEZ, which represented Phase 1 of a planned series of investments, had enabled Futurelife to acquire advanced machinery and equipment, ensuring the factory operated at higher standards.

“The consolidation of operations aims to bolster the company's ability to continue to produce high-quality goods,” he said.

PepsiCo South Africa CEO Riaan Heyl told Engineering News that the imminent Phase 2 would see an investment in a series of additional sustainability initiatives over the next 18 months, including photovoltaic solar power generation and rainwater harvesting infrastructure. These initiatives would form part of the R75-million overall investment.

Through Phase 2, Futurelife will use the factory’s 8 500 m² roof for solar energy, which would be accomplished through the integration of solar energy systems into the facility's operations. Rainwater gathering initiatives will also contribute to the factory's sustainable water practices.

Guests in attendance at the factory opening included KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Siboniso Duma and Dube TradePort CEO Hamish Erskine.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Duma emphasised the important role that the factory would play in sustainable economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.

"This plant represents a huge endeavour on the part of management and all categories of staff at Futurelife and the Dube TradePort. This launch is a result of your ability to work together to master new state-of-the-art technologies and to do this all on schedule,” he said.

Duma added that, if the province’s full potential and discharge of the government's shared commitment to create a better life for all South Africans were to be realised, then increased investment in the province was of critical importance.

“Locating this business within the Dube TradePort SEZ will ensure efficiencies in the operations while reducing the logistics costs. Importantly, we are cognisant of the fact that manufacturing is one of the sectors hardest hit recently. We experienced Covid-19 lockdown, followed by devastating floods. All of this resulted in thousands of job losses,” he said.

Futurelife has its origins in KwaZulu-Natal, starting in 2007 as a social project with the aim of supporting malnourished and disadvantaged individuals across sub-Saharan Africa through the development of an affordable and convenient nutrition product. The company experienced significant growth in the province thereafter, followed by expansion into the rest of the country, he explained.

Bunn said that, over the past three years, Futurelife had become the fastest-growing breakfast cereal and breakfast bar brand in South Africa, with an estimated one box of Futurelife cereal sold per second in the country.

“We are . . . giving back to the very community and economy that has played a pivotal role in our journey. Our dedication [is] a pledge to support and enrich the local community and economy through our endeavours, ensuring a lasting positive impact for years to come,” he said.

At the outset of the company, a diverse team of professionals including food scientists, technologists, medical experts and dieticians were tasked to create an instant, nutritionally balanced, and good-tasting product that could be easily prepared with water.

The original Futurelife Smart Food – the company’s flagship product – was developed as a scientifically formulated, balanced, nutritious, convenient food containing a product called Moducare. Moducare is a daily immune supplement, made from a patented blend of plant sterols and sterolins.

Since then, Futurelife developed a broader product range, emphasising nutrition and health based on its uniquely formulated recipes. The product range expanded to other categories, including bran flakes and bars that deliver the Smart Nutrition product in a more instantly consumable form.

"We are not only investing in a factory. We are investing in a vision that has guided us since inception,” Bunn said.

“Through Futurelife, we are providing consumers with unique and nourishing products, with the new manufacturing facility in KwaZulu-Natal also underscoring our goal of promoting skills development and diverse, inclusive workplaces,” Heyl added.

He stated that the opening of the new factory was in line with government’s vision for South Africa's economic growth, particularly within the manufacturing sector and SEZs.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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