RCL FOODS opens R123m “state of the art” pet food plant

RCL FOODS has opened a R123 million pet food plant in Randfontein, which is one of the largest facilities of its kind in Africa. The factory, which aims to grow the food producer’s South African share of the pet food retail segment from 40% to 60%, was fully commissioned in December 2017.

The 1500m² state-of-the-art factory features innovation and technology that, until now, has not been available in South Africa and will assist to entrench and grow market leadership with a focus on the ‘premium’ segment and vet channel.

“South Africans spend around R5 billion each year on feeding their pets, and as more and more people discover the joy of owning a pet, that number is set to grow,” says Scott Pitman, MD of RCL FOODS Consumer Division. “With the addition of this facility, RCL FOODS expects pet food to become the largest contributor to Grocery profits in the next five years.”

Of the total R5 billion spend, pet food’s retail market is valued at R3 billion, with sales through vets amounting to R1.2 billion, and the non-groceries sector accounting for     R800 million. As the largest pet food manufacturer in South Africa, RCL FOODS currently holds a 40% market share in the retail segment. The factory, and the strategy behind it, aims to revolutionise South Africa’s retail pet food industry and grow it from a R3 billion to a R4 billion industry within the next 18 months.

“This new facility will allow us to deliver an improved and more innovative product offering, which will attract additional customers from the various other sectors of the market,” explains Pitman. “The new facility will also allow us to provide our customers with a consistent and better supply, allow for greater Dealer Own Brands (DOB) partnerships and enable us to continue enhancing the product through various innovations, such as packaging, nutritional content and quality, among other world-class offerings.”

RCL FOODS is the first South African pet food manufacturer to introduce six internationally accredited capabilities to the pet food retail sector, which are:

  1. Inclusion of fresh meat into the kibble-making for a meatier and tastier meal;
  2. Vacuum-coated technology to enhance the meaty taste and lock in flavour;
  3. Kibble coated in gravy powder which transforms into a gravy-rich meal simply by adding water;
  4. Extract from real vegetables is now included in the kibble allowing for increased health benefits;
  5. High levels of calcium in the form of enriched, milky bones; and
  6. Increased moisture in the kibble making process to ensure the chunks remain moist and meaty for mouth-watering chewy bits.

These improvements are all contributing to a revolution in the RCL FOODS’ pet food ranges of Canine Cuisine, Bobtail, Catmor, Ultra Dog and Optimizor. In addition to pet food, the pet-treats market is also set for growth. Globally treats make up 25 per cent of market, but in South Africa this is currently eight per cent and provides a significant opportunity for RCL FOODS.

“Our resident animal nutritionist and veterinarian have formulated all products to international standards and to meet the specific nutritional needs of South African pets. Ultimately, it’s all about more happy, healthy pets!” Pitman concludes.