In a move to unlock further value to its grape growers and the business in general, Orange River Cellars has bought the Farmers Pride Raisins facility outside the town of Keimoes in the Northern Cape. Farmers Pride produces some 4 000 tons of premier quality raisins a year from grapes grown and dried in a region internationally renowned for this sought-after dried fruit product.
According to Charl du Plessis, CEO of Orange River Cellars, entering the raisin business is in line with Orange River Cellars’ ethos of expanding its offering beyond the wine production it has become known for since the cellars’ founding in 1965.
“While we have become renowned as a volume wine producer, everyone knows that bigger is not necessarily better,” says Du Plessis, “especially in a wine market where too many large South African producers find themselves as price-takers instead of price-makers. Orange River Cellars is therefore undergoing a strategic turnaround with a greater focus on its own branded products that can add greater value to the chain, as well as looking at other avenues to complement and grow the revenue stream.”
Farmers Pride Raisins is one of South Africa’s leading raisin companies in an industry that produces some 60 000 tons of raisins per year, 90% of which originate in the Northern Cape due to its proximity to the Orange River and the sunny climate’s ability to ensure grapes suitable for drying to top-quality raisins.
“As part of the Northern Cape’s grape industry, raisin production is a natural fit,” says Du Plessis. “Farmers Pride has a state-of-the art production plant, knowledgeable and experienced staff and a good client base in the export markets, especially Europe, where the brand has gained a reputation for quality and service delivery. For Orange River Cellars this is an asset that complements our wine offering and cements our position as an inclusive player in the Northern Cape economy and grape-farming industry.”
Outside of wine, Orange River Cellars already produces grape concentrate, used as a sweetener in the wine and fruit-juice industries, as well as grape juice.
The expansion into the raisin industry follows Orange River Cellars’ successful entry into the high-volume black market with its revolutionary Delush brand.
“An agriculture business of our size cannot be a one-trick pony,” says Du Plessis. “To turn a profit and to remain a major economic player in your community demands identifying new opportunities and grasping them. We are sure that the expansion into the specialist raisin era is the first of many steps towards greater profitability and a dynamic future for our grape farmer members, staff and the Northern Cape community.”