Agri SA has welcomed JSE-listed food manufacturer Tiger Brands’ decision to extend operations of its Western Cape hardwood fruit business, Langeberg & Ashton Foods (L&AF), for a further season, saying it should give the company ample time to find a buyer and save jobs.
Last month, Tiger Brands, SA’s largest food producer, confirmed it was in talks with employees at L&AF about a possible closure, a move that Agri SA at the time said it could affect more than 4,000 seasonal and permanent jobs and have a devastating impact on the local and national economy. Agri SA also said that the 300 farmers supplying the L&AF factory could face ruin if the shop were to close permanently.
Executive Director Christo van der Rheede said on Tuesday that Agri SA was ” “absolutely pleased” with this week’s decision , said it followed “very constructive collusion” between Tiger Brands, unions, workers and the consortium of farmers who want to buy L&AF and have asked for more time to secure funding.
He was hopeful of the decision could help save the factory.
“We have to stay positive. That positivity is an important element that is part of the longer-term outcome that we are striving for.”
Van der Rheede said apart from the talks between Tiger Brands, workers, unions and the farmers’ consortium Agri SA, the Industrial also had Development Corporation (IDC), the Canning Fruit Producers Association and other stakeholders to discuss how to save the L&AF.
“The most important thing is to find a buyer for the factory. We are very grateful for the constructive cooperation.”
Tiger Brands, which owns brands such as Jungle Oats, Koo Canned Food and All Gold Tomato Sauce, said on Tuesday the “decision was made after a contract was agreed along with organized labour, L&AF staff and members of the Canning Fruit Producers Association enabling the company to take the significant risk required to run the business for the coming season.”
“The flexibility, open-mindedness and demonstrated by all parties to reach out to this company’s deciduous fruit processors while preserving the jobs of 250 permanent employees and 4,300 seasonal workers employed directly by L&AF for another season,” said CEO Noel Doyle.< /p>
Tiger Brands said it will continue to work with interested parties to complete a transaction that is the continuation of a sustainable deciduous fruit processor beyond the 2022/3 season.
In June 2022, Tiger Brands launched consultations and commitments on the future of the business “in the absence of reasonable prospects for a viable transaction at the end of an exhaustive two year period process”.
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