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Poultry revolution at Supreme’s new further processing plant

Francois Jacobsz, GM of Supreme Poultry. Supplied image.

Francois Jacobsz, GM of Supreme Poultry. Supplied image.

Published Jun 17, 2022

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Johannesburg - Big plans are afoot at the enormous Germiston processing plant where Supreme Poultry, the Country Bird Holdings (CBH) brand, is establishing its new Poultry Palace.

In the year since CBH moved in, the former Enterprise plant has completely shed its pork profile, attained halaal certification, and is slowly being transformed into a state-of-the-art further processing facility for Supreme Poultry products.

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A total of R150 million has been invested in the new plant in the last year alone, with more growth in the pipeline.

According to CEO Brendon de Boer, this is in addition to the company’s commitment to the Poultry Industry Master Plan: “Our pledge to increase output by 400 000 birds a week entailed significant investment in infrastructure development to upgrade and expand our abattoir facilities and also from our contract growers who produce the birds we slaughter.

The Poultry Palace, as De Boer fondly calls the new Gauteng facility, will be the home of its Supreme Chicken brands. Supplied image.

“In South Africa alone, we and our growers have invested over R1 billion over the past three years and we are on track to deliver 2.3 million birds per week to the South African market, creating 122 additional new jobs in the process.

“This, together with the 1.5 million birds per week supplied to countries outside South Africa, puts CBH in a strong position as the dominant poultry player in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Izaak Breitenbach, of the South African Poultry Association, has lauded CBH’s contribution to the master plan, which was signed by government and industry in 2019.

“The industry pledged a total of R1.5 billion to expand production, create more jobs and empower emerging farmers by 2023. It is thanks to companies such as CBH, which has overdelivered on its pledge to expand so that they could increase slaughter numbers significantly, that we are able to confirm that we have already reached 80% of our target,” says Breitenbach.

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The Poultry Palace, as De Boer fondly calls the new Gauteng facility, will be the home of its Supreme Chicken brands. Supplied image.

The Poultry Palace, as De Boer fondly calls the new Gauteng facility, will be the home of its Supreme Chicken brand’s further processed, value-added product lines, currently including chicken patties, chicken nuggets, chicken strips and more, which provide for the high demand of the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) sector.

But that is only the start, De Boer says.

They are currently awaiting state-of-the-art new equipment that will be installed by October, and by the end of the year production is expected to have already quadrupled to 800 tons a month, with a monthly target of 1 250 tons per month being set for January 2023.

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The facility is also in the process of attaining accreditation for exports to the EU, UK and the Middle East. “We are increasingly moving into the arena of developing added-value products to diversify our product portfolio,” explains De Boer.

He added: “I am looking forward to a time when the Poultry Palace will be a bustling hub of people producing whole ranges of convenient products, from sausages and possibly canned chicken to fully cooked whole chicken for the retail, hospitality and export markets.”

Along with this expansion will come a welcome increase in job opportunities they can offer, he adds.

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QSRs rely on quality freezer-to-fryer products that are partly or fully cooked to cut down on essential preparation time for their signature fast meals. As a dependable, consistent supplier of these patties, nuggets and more, CBH has seen demand grow for the products they already supply, but also for different lines that offer a new horizon of potential, and not only in the food-service sector.

According to sales and marketing director Phil Tozer, the rising demand for convenient, value- added products is an opportunity CBH is training a keen eye on.

“People are looking for prepared food that is affordable, nutritious and readily available,” he says. “Chicken products that can be warmed and served almost instantly; chicken burgers and schnitzels that are quick to prepare and serve – those items that are ready to eat, heat and eat, oven ready, ready to braai, smoked, marinated and spiced – are increasingly popular.”

The future at Supreme is likely to include an expanded range of products of this nature, to cater to retail, wholesale and food-service outlets, he says.

The new Poultry Palace is ideally placed for this future expansion. A massive hub sprawled over 82 000sq/m in Germiston, the premises consists of four separate factories connected by a central depot.

At present two of these factories are operational: one is occupied by a blue-chip tenant, while the second contains Further Process Plant 2, which is undergoing extensive renovation.

Production has already doubled in a flash-fry line that can produce a ton of formed, crumbed, freezer-to-fryer products in an hour. According to processing director Arno Kietzmann the new technology arriving in October include a state-of-the-art former and a spiral cooker with a production speed of three tons an hour.

Plant 2 will then have two production lines with fully automated weighing, packing, and X-ray equipment. Plants 3 and 4 are earmarked for future developments.

The export of fully cooked poultry products is one of the areas of potential development that De Boer and his team are most excited about.

The halaal certification has opened doors to potential exports to the Middle East, and initial exploratory meetings with interested parties in the United Arab Emirates have been positive, says De Boer.

“One of the benefits of the sheer scale of this facility is that it easily accommodates a tenant that produces salamis, alongside the rest of the premises which conform to the halaal requirements of the National Independent Halaal Trust (NIHT) and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJP).”

To ensure the halaal certification a complete separation was established between the Supreme further processing facilities and the tenant’s operating area, including the construction of solid dividing walls and the installation of new floors.

Existing processing equipment was also put through the rigorous cleansing processes required by the halaal trusts.

The existing equipment that came with the plant is another of the benefits of the facility, according to Supreme Poultry GM Francois Jacobsz. “There are cookers, smokers, oven; machinery with a variety of capabilities that we can experiment with in the development of new product lines going forward,” says Jacobsz.

There is even a fully equipped laboratory where food- safety tests can be carried out, he adds. New-product development is getting a leg up with the appointment of a new product-development scientist this month.

Says De Boer: “We’ve proven our capability to provide quality freezer-to-fryer products to the market and the networks we’ve built within the multinational QSR sector have highlighted whole other categories of demand that exists.

“The Poultry Palace is allowing us the room to grow our footprint, our workforce and our total offering of premium added-value products. Exciting times are ahead.”

The Saturday Star

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