SOUTH AFRICA – Kaap Agri, a group trading in agricultural, fuel and related retail markets, has made its first major investment of more than R150million (US$8.62m) to further bolster its manufacturing capabilities.

The investment entails the establishment of Tego Plastics, a new subsidiary of the Kaap Agri Group, based in Brackenfell, Cape Town, which will be making large format, injection-moulded plastic products.

According to Independent Online, one of the largest injection-moulding machines available in the global market was commissioned in the facility.

Set to provide 33 new job opportunities at the facility, Tego Plastics will initially produce food grade bulk bins for the agricultural market, with the opportunity to manufacture additional solid form products at a later stage.

The Tego Bulk Bin is used in the harvesting and post-harvesting processes of fresh fruit and vegetables. Bulk bins are essential to the pome, citrus and stone fruit sectors.

Kaap Agri chief executive Sean Walsh said the launch of Tego Plastics was in line with the group’s strategy to diversify its manufactured product range and to offer more value to its agricultural customer base.

“With limited availability of new bins and product options it was clear to us that we could help address challenges that producers face with the storage and transportation of fresh produce,” he said.

Leading operations at Kaap Agri’s new manufacturing plant in Brackenfell, Tego executive manager Edward Smith said some of the challenges producers faced included: damage to produce due to limited air flow, bruising because of the shape of the inside of the bins, sun damage, as well as compatibility issues when moving bins with forklifts and pallet jacks.

In addition, a strained availability of new bins meant that farmers were resorting to using old bins that could potentially damage the produce.

Design features of the Tego bin included a smoother inside to help eliminate bruising, a centre support structure to prevent warping and bulging associated with heavy loads and drenching slots to ensure better ventilation.