Efficiencies across the board deliver a great year for SAFE

Twenty seventeen has been a good year for SAFE.  That’s the opinion at both ends of the business – from production to marketing – as well as in the engine room where the numbers count.

Careful forward planning, the “spread” of farms across South Africa, the installation of sophisticated automated irrigation systems, an increase of productive land under netting and streamlined internet based financial and project management, has allowed SAFE to continue supplying key global markets in spite of the drought in the Western Cape and tough global economic trading conditions.

“The installation of sophisticated automatic irrigation on a number of farms, the drilling of new boreholes and fine tuning the manner in which crops are irrigated, resulted in improved harvests according to Dries van Rooyen, SAFE General Manager of Farming Operations.

He said more citrus had been planted in the Western Cape and Limpopo and more land was now under grapes in the Northern and Western Cape.

“Excellent enthusiastic farm managers have worked hard to get the best from the farms and our farm workers. The consistency of our management is critical to our successes,” he added.

According to Dries, “SAFE has a distinct advantage due to the fact that we farm right across South Africa – taking advantage of the soils and weather over a vast area to live up to our promise to our markets to be reliable in the delivery of the best possible produce.”

This opinion was supported by SAFE Marketing and Sales Director (Export) Wibo van den Ende. “Our markets acknowledge – as we have proven over many years – that SAFE can be relied upon to consistently deliver the best product available.

“We have also been able to meet expectations on pricing, adhere to critical standards of packaging and most important meet the requirements of very strict certification.”

According to Wibo it was SAFE’s Fairtrade certification that opened doors to new markets.

“I am particularly proud to have been able to find interest for SAFE produce in Switzerland where entry to markets is particularly difficult – particularly with regards to food safety, and the social and ethical manner in which we farm.

“Fairtrade accreditation is considered to be the “gold standard” by European receivers – a certification that they use to gain market share in their respective markets.”

Wibo said that his visits to expo’s and trade fairs in Europe exposing SAFE to the major buyers had been particularly successful in 2017.

“While it’s not our intention “to dance at every wedding” I do selectively aim for a proper fit for all SAFE fruit in class 1+, 1, 2 and 3 to match with receivers worldwide.

“And it’s heartening to see that our customers know that they can rely on us.

“It’s simple”, he added. “We say what we do, and do what we say… and our markets respect us for that.”

This also proved true in China where SAFE affiliate Global Fresh achieved what many companies across the world can only dream of – a significant relationship with one of China’s fastest growing online retail chain stores.

This follows a three-year “toes in the water” approach with Miss Fresh by Rutger van Wulfen of Global Fresh.

“In China business is based on trust,” said van Wulfen. “Delivering consistently for three years has built up a strong relationship of trust between Miss Fresh and Global Fresh. Now they have given us a preferred supplier contract – which is a huge step for SAFE, via Global Fresh, into the Chinese market.”

Global Fresh is a fruit importer and supermarket service provider that offers customized packaging for a group of China and Hong Kong based suppliers.

Also key to SAFE”s success this year has been SAFE’s willingness to harness the power of award-winning “open source” software to streamline everything SAFE does.

As the year draws to a close the financial and IT specialists at SAFE are close to the full implementation of Openbravo, an award-winning ERP solution developed in Spain.

“We will have the entire business on Openbravo by early next year,” said Samantha Hanreck, ICT Manager of Business Systems at SAFE who has been working with Eugene van Vuuren of Qbix Consulting, to customise Openbravo for SAFE.

According to Sam the benefit of the web-based cloud storage ERP solution is already being felt at SAFE in a significant reduction of costs and vastly improved operational efficiencies.

After bringing General Ledger and master files across to Openbravo, SAFE’s Openbravo customisation programme has entered phase two – logistics. The final hurdle will be “on boarding” of the warehouses, cold rooms and pack houses into the system.

A significant aspect of Openbravo is that it allows head office to use accurate data captured during the entire life of a crop – from all their farms – to track production, calculate actual costs and determine realistic pricing.

“The software has already delivered savings of up to R1m, while playing a significant role in making SAFE more efficient,” says SAFE chief financial officer, Quentin Scott.

“I look forward to 2018 when the entire business in on Openbravo and we are all – from farm managers to packing and marketing teams, enjoying the benefits of SAFE being an efficient run business.

“Our aim for 2018 is to continue delivering to our shareholders, our employees, their families and the communities in which we do business while consistently serving our global markets with the best produce they can get.”

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