Bringing breakfast to South Africa
Pioneer Foods has been a key player in the South African food industry since 1920. Bokomo Foods, one of four divisions of Pioneer Foods, is a well-known brand of many breakfast cereals and other household names.
Bokomo Foods is a major exporter in the South African breakfast cereal market, including a variety of food products, such as dried fruits, cereals, desserts and baking ingredients.
In 2002, South African Dried Fruit (SAD) was acquired by Pioneer Foods and, although it was initially managed as a separate division, Bokomo and SAD merged in 2007 to become Bokomo Foods.The other three divisions are Sasko (milling and baking), The Agri Business (poultry, eggs and animal feeds) and The Ceres Beverage Company—one of South Africa’s largest producers of fruit juice and soft drinks, including Pepsi and 7Up.
SAD is a major sector of Bokomo Foods with its extensive dried fruit range. Nico Koch, Head of Exports of Bokomo Foods says, “There are a range of various products including Thompsons, golden sultanas, OR sultanas and currants.”
SAD also processes a number of different types of fruit including apples, pears, peaches and apricots. “We export to about 50 countries worldwide,” adds Koch.
Bokomo Foods also had products lines in exotic fruits such as pineapple and mangoes. These fruits are marketed as dried fruits or further processed into different dry fruit products. “We have a range called minced dried fruit with products like fruit sticks, fruit bars, rolls and flakes. We use tree fruit as raw material and then mince and dry it and it ends up in stick, bar or flake form,” says Koch. These products are seen as a healthy and convenient on-the-go alternative.
Koch notes that Bokomo Foods started to export these value-added products four years ago and it has done well in the international market. The majority of Bokomo Foods’ dried fruit products are exported to the western world, while cereal products are mainly exported to developing countries. The company sells to different grocery stores and industrial buyers who use the bulk products in chocolate, baking and retail packs.
Bokomo Foods’ breakfast cereals are highly successful in the South African region. “If you look at the breakfast cereal market in the world it’s about US$22 billion and half of that is in the United States. We provide to markets in Africa and are growing exponentially as people earn more money and start to consume more breakfast cereals.”
Weet-Bix is one of Bokomo Foods’ main brands and is South Africa’s No. 1 breakfast cereal.
Outside of its cereal and dried fruit products, the company also offers baking and dessert goods, includes jellies, puddings and mousses. Koch says, “These are mostly exported into China and [within] Africa.”
The company is also currently expanding its brands to biscuits with a new plant being built. The company also owns Marmite, a popular English spread, in Southern Africa.
Growth and promotions
The company has goals of growing aggressively into Africa on both the export and retail side. “We want to familiarize our customers with Bokomo’s products,”says Koch.
It is important to find the best possible importers per market segment in order to ensure that we obtain optimal growth.
Bokomo will be doing a lot of in-store activities like competitions at major retailers such as Pick ‘n Pay and ShopRite stores in Africa, as well as in-store tasting events to familiarize buyers with Bokomo Foods products and to educate consumers on the health benefits of its cereal and dried fruit.
The company works in conjunction with farmers in Upington to promote Fair Trade. Koch notes the importance of initiatives like this and how Bokomo is a strong believer in investing in the lives of the individuals who work for the company.
Bokomo Foods is aware of the environmental impact that it has on the world and works with a number of agricultural advisors to ensure good environmental practices. “We have agricultural advisors dealing with the dried fruit producers and advise them on pesticide and fertilizers.”
Among the largest food companies in South Africa, Bokomo Foods has built a niche with dry fruits and cereals. It has proven itself as a mainstay in South Africa with an ideal value for popular, healthy products. With household name brands and hardworking staff dedicated to its products, Bokomo has a long future ahead in the South African food industry.