History

Supplying to some of the major supermarkets across Europe, including Waitrose, Orex Export is looking to invest in new farms with an eye on producing innovative products for the export market

Founded by its shareholders, the Spangenberg and Nel family, in 1997, Orex Exports (Pty) Ltd focuses on the export of deciduous fruit, including citrus fruit and grapes, all over the world. As well as this, the business produces the packaging for the fruit, which it exports to some of the major supermarkets across Europe, including upmarket British supermarket chain Waitrose, owned by The John Lewis Partnership.

The Orange River Valley
All of the produce that the company exports are cultivated on Orex Export’s two farms in Zwartbooisberg and Krantzberg, which are situated in the Lower Orange River Valley, South Africa – an area developed around agriculture, specifically irrigation farming.

Aside from the investment in the local economy, Orex Export has also made an important contribution towards the socio-economic development of the Lower Orange River Valley, in terms of job and wealth creation. Currently the two farms provide fixed employment to 250 individuals and around 500 on a temporary basis, depending on the season.

As a BEE accredited company, Orex Export has taken steps to empower disadvantaged groups, particularly black people, women, youth, the disabled and rural communities, through ownership and control of enterprises and assets. Further to this, the company has invested significantly in the training of its workforce.

One of the main challenges that faces South Africa is the lack of skilled artisans – an area that most businesses have identified as the biggest constraint to business growth. In order to overcome this, Orex Export is constantly investing in in-house training, such as Abet. The company also operates a nursery school with afterschool classes for primary school children on the farm, training and support for workers in soccer and netball teams, as well as training courses in various aspects of the farm management setup. In addition, the business receives external input from its clients.

Streamlining and cost management
Another of the main focus areas for Orex Export in the past few years has been on cost chain management, which the company manages itself. This has resulted in the business being able to negotiate better terms with the logistics firms it uses. The company also works closely with shipping lines - for example, Logistical companies - for the export of its deciduous fruits, which has also helped to streamline the export process.

Technology has also played an ever increasing role in streamlining the company’s processes. For instance, Orex Export has established an internal traceability system to ensure compliance with international food safety and phyto-sanitary requirements. This includes the development of internationally acceptable Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices, as well as Global Gap-based and Organic Accredited principles to ensure food safety control. In addition, all produce on the farm is BCS Oko Garantie accredited.

The company has also invested R5 million in the upgrade of its cold storage and pack house facilities. The upgrade has meant that the cold store is now adjacent to the pack house, which has increased the shelf life of the products that the company exports.

An ethical business
Going forward, Orex Export is also looking to invest in new farms with an eye on producing new products for the export market; in particular, the business is looking to move further into more organic products to capitalise on the increase in demand for organic produce. Currently, 90 percent of the production on the company’s two farms is diverted to organically grown produce; this is part of the company’s drive towards natural and healthy products.

As an international fruit supplier, Orex Export places high importance on the ethical, social and ecological aspects of conducting business and special care is being taken to farm in harmony with nature. According to the company, “successful cooperation in fruit means more than just delivering fresh high quality produce”, businesses must also be environmentally and socially responsible in order to compete in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

 
     
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