A good seed: Advance Seed has grown into leading SA seed producer
For over a century, South Africa has had a thriving private seed industry. And as an estimated 90 per cent of food consumed in the world traces its genesis to seed, the importance of the industry, and South Africa’s role therein, cannot be underestimated.
A major player in the South African seed industry is Advance Seed. Veterans in the field—the agricultural farming company has been in existence since the late 1940s—Advance Seed are at the forefront of the production and exportation of seed to global importers. To remain competitive, Advance Seed ensure efficient and reliable products, and have maintained a continuous supply of their products for the diverse customer base it serves. With operations throughout Southern Africa, a highly skilled team and a meticulous logistics operation, Advance Seed has thrived by providing consistently meeting and exceeding clients’ needs in quality and service.
Leaving no segment of the market unattended, Advance Seed is thoroughly involved in every aspect of the agricultural sector, including cleaning, grading, processing, production, and marketing and sales. Taking full advantage of the diverse nature of the seed industry, Advance Seed products are distributed throughout 50 countries internationally to customers in a variety of industries, and have a well tuned logistics chain to facilitate the process.
Brian and Brad Lever (Managing Director and Director of Advance Seed, respectively, and, incidentally, father and son) oversee the operations for Advance Seed. The company has a seed division which supplies seed for planting purposes for the South African and southern African markets. The company also has divisions for the production of popcorn for worldwide distribution, the production of seed for North American and worldwide distribution, and production of legumes and pulses for world markets.
“Our customers are major chain stores, major bakers, NGO government organisations, large industrial manufacturers…the list goes on,” says Brad. But what is it that makes Advance Seed the top choice for so many companies? Advance Seed’s main processing and bulk storage facility in Chamdor, west of Johannesburg, is equipped with state-of-the art processing equipment that allows for a finely tuned operation and an efficiency of process that is unrivalled. The facility has a capacity of 20 metric ton per hour, along with a bulk silo facility.
Besides state-of-the art processing equipment, and an internationally recognized seed laboratory which has been supplying quality seed for the past 15 years, Advance Seed is also the only company that custom coats seed for both the turf and forage markets to incorporate antacids, insecticides, nutrients, growth stimulants and fertilizers.
World class popcorn
The attention and care paid to the quality of the Advance Seed product is second to know; it is (if you pardon the metaphor) the kernel of the business, and it has served the company very well. Readers will be well familiar with Advance Seed’s popcorn line sold under their house brands (BIGG Elephant Popcorn, King-Pop, Freshpop and Corona Popcorn, for examples). Quality is absolute paramount, and is ensured “from planting to process” due to strict monitoring. Skilled staff oversee that only the top tier popcorn makes it out of the silos for selection, thereby assuring a consistently superior product that guarantees its customers profitability every time they choose Advance Seed.
Advance Seed is happy to discuss pack size and packaging requirements with its customers who wish to sell the snack in individual packages, but also accommodates high expansion movie theatre gourmet popcorn. “Every load is test-popped several times before it is shipped to our customers. If it does not meet our standards we do not ship it. Owing to our diligently following our quality procedures, Freshpop Popcorn customers are 100 per cent satisfied,” says the company.
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The results speak for themselves. “Happy clients will come back to you year after year,” beams Brian. Evidence of this is not hard to find: many Advance Seed relationships have been established for over 25 years. To continually support these relationships, Advance Seed has a reliable logistic support chain which meets the needs of their international clients. “A lot of the business is so demanding because of large volumes and tight delivery schedules,” he continues, adding Advance Seed has “the ability to produce 2-3,000 tonnes over a four week period. Not everyone can do that.”
Advance Seed fosters its employee relationships with the same care and attention it pays its client relations. With 150 people working for the company, Brian says a source of pride for him is the fact that “within our staff you will find a lot of family members, and even second generation partners.”
Having over 70 years experience in the industry, Advance Seed is showing no signs of slowing down. The company is capitalising on new markets to significantly expand the business three-fold. “We aim to achieve this expansion by increasing our footprint throughout the whole of sub Saharan Africa and worldwide,” says Brian. The company has done extensive market research on facilities as a winter nursery, and aims to diversify into that market, as well. “SA has a really good reputation for reliability and seed control because we are an English speaking country with central logistics, good infrastructure and good climatic conditions.” he continues. And as SA industry leaders, Advance Seed is the ideal southern hemisphere producer to do for northern hemisphere companies.
With geographical presence strategically extended over much of the African continent, the company is ideally positioned for ease of operations both locally, and internationally. “From a small seed, a mighty oak may grow.” The adage is fitting for Advance Seed. Its contributions have helped lead SA as global leaders in the seed industry, and will continue to do so under the very capable current leadership. Advance Seed has shown a stalwart dedication to trading in only the highest quality agricultural products, and supply crops and products to its customers effectively that will see them become leading international agricultural trade and suppliers.