Unilever opens first African ice-cream factory

Unilever South Africa has opened the doors of its first state-of-the-art ice cream factory in Africa, in Lords View Industrial Park, Midrand, Johannesburg. The factory is one of 40 Unilever ice cream factories internationally, and sets new standards in green and low-cost manufacturing.
Speaking at the opening of the Lords View ice cream factory, Bruno Witvoet, Unilever’s Executive Vice President for Africa, said the multinational is very positive about the rising demand in the ice cream category: “ Unilever is optimistic about growth in demand in the ice cream category, and has invested approximately R600 million in this new factory. With this investment we are well positioned to meet future demand. It will offer sufficient capacity for the current sales volume to double while also servicing increased demand for brands like Magnum, Cornetto, GinoGinelli, Paddelpop, Frutarre and Rich ‘n
Creamy. The factory will furthermore help Unilever to continue on its journey of decoupling its growth from environmental impact while increasing positive social impact. Furthermore it will contribute towards reaching the ambitious targets set in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.”
Witvoet said Unilever has proven its confidence in South Africa’s and Africa’s growth potential by investing a total of R4 billion in new and refurbished manufacturing facilities in South Africa.
The factory
The factory is fitted with green technology from TetraPak for the processing machinery which handles the ice-cream mix preparation, extrusion tunnel lines (which run at an estimated 200 units per minute), moulding, filling and (specific to the Magnum brand) a Tetra Pak® Chocolate Enrober.
Cape Town-based packaging systems company AcePak supplied and installed the automatic case packer; H.G Molenaar, a large machinery producer provided the weighers.
Illovo sugar, Eurosticks and Raveninn packaging are Unilever’s choice of suppliers for raw sugar, sticks and packaging boxes respectively.
The ice cream factory utilises smart green technology to harvest rain water. The water is recovered and reused in the production processes.
The factory will also apply a zerowaste-to-landfill policy and features energy efficient technology. “The
refrigeration from local manufacturer Ecolab (Pty) Ltd, along with other utilities services, are specifically designed to reduce energy consumed through efficient motors, drive mixers and air compressors,” said Sandeep Desai, Unilever South Africa’s Vice President of Manufacturing. “This, combined with decreased water usage and responsible waste disposal, has an exponentially positive effect on the factory’s environmental impact.”Lords View Industrial Park was specifically chosen as the preferred site due to its Environmental Impact Statement which resonates with Unilever’s Environmental Management Plan and its focus on sustainability.
Unilever partnered with Harambe Human Resource Consulting to recruit employees for the factory from communities that surround Lord’s View Industrial Park.
Explains Desai: “So far 150 new jobs have been created since the start of the factory, and another 200 indirect jobs.
Unilever aims to create a further 2,500 jobs by the end of 2015 through its Ola Vendor Programme. The programme empowers micro-entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds by giving them the equipment needed to start an ice-cream vending business.
It offers continuous development and support opportunities, helping these entrepreneurs to be successful
business people.”
Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, acknowledged Unilever’s continued investment in the country. He said the company actively collaborated with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure that its investments were preserved within an enabling environment. The DTI has given incentives of nearly R1.981 billion related to Unilever’s investments since 2011, he said. Additionally, the DTI has supported
the new factory through its 12i Tax Allowance Incentive scheme. The scheme supports greenfield Investments (new industrial projects that have only new and unused manufacturing assets) and projects that are environmentally system sustainable.
Said Davies: “South Africa needs growth and development to sustain its population. Our natural resources,
on the other hand, need to be handled carefully to sustain the planet. If these two requirements can be balanced, as they have been at this ice cream factory, a brighter future certainly is within our reach.”
AcePak: Tel +27 11 393 1110; www.acepak.co.za
Ecolab: Tel +27 11 578 5000; ecolabafricareception@ecolab.com; www.ecolab.com
H.G Molenaar: Tel +27 21 868 2210; info@hgmolenaar.com; www.hgmolenaar.com
TetraPak: Tel +27 11 570 3000; www.tetrapak.com/za
The Department of Trade and Industry: Tel +27 12 394 9500; www.thedti.gov.za
Unilever South Africa: Tel + 27 860 330 006; Barry.Dijoe@unilever.com; www.unilever.co.za