Video: Major milestone for SA’s leading pork processor

Henry

Vienna sausages, bacon or ham? Maybe a marinated pork rib on the coals? You know where to get these products because the name is big… and now they are even bigger.

Eskort, the leading pork processor in the country that started 107 years ago with nine farmers in Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal, now provides work for more than 2,000 people across South Africa.

This company, which boasts 25 stores in seven of the country’s provinces, reached an exciting milestone this week with the introduction of impressive new developments at its factory in Heidelberg.

With an expansion of 10,000 m², the factory increased its production capacity in Gauteng by a total of 50% and ushered in a new era of high-tech efficiency in production.

Arnold Prinsloo, CEO of Eskort, says the company has invested a total of R300 million in the expansions to increase its production capacity.

“The reason for this is that we have grown enormously since 2018, the expansions at our Heidelberg factory were much needed to accommodate this growth.

“The company is also determined to expand business in this beautiful country of ours, and remains dedicated to keeping small towns alive.”

This factory now boasts the largest box freezer of its kind in Africa which can freeze a total of 120 tonnes of products in 24 hours to -18 °C. Boxes move on a conveyor belt through the freezing room where the air is kept at -41°C – a temperature that naturally only occurs in polar regions.

“The great advantage of this remarkable box freezer is that we can now provide a high quality product to our clients. We have experienced problems with our freezing capacity before, especially with the ongoing loadshedding issue. However, with this box freezer we can now provide the best quality products in the country.”

Prinsloo says the doubling of refrigeration and frozen storage space at the factory, as well as special carcass cooling facilities and new equipment are part of the new expansions.

“We have also installed 3,100 pallet spaces in our cold storage which further contributes to the increased capacity.

“We used to slaughter 6,000 pigs per week, but the capacity has now been increased to a total of 9,000 pigs per week. At this stage we are slaughtering 6,500 pigs per week and we intend to slaughter 7,500 pigs per week before the end of the year.”

Prinsloo says the boning plant has also been enlarged. “The deboning plant comes from Austria and is really world class – we can debon 180 tonnes of meat per shift.”

And problems with load shedding are also a thing of the past for this company after they installed four generators at the factory that can generate a total of 4 MW of power – enough to power 800 households.

“These achievements are testimony to Eskort’s resilience, adaptability and vision, and they highlight the effectiveness of the leadership lessons the company has absorbed over more than a century.”

One of the unique aspects of Eskort is its shareholder structure, where farmers are directly involved in the business. The company’s pork is also antibiotic-free, an aspect that enjoys the trust of consumers throughout South Africa.

Prinsloo says Eskort’s success is also due to the high health condition of their pigs, which receive genetics from leading companies in the Netherlands and Norway.

“And because Eskort is a private company, we can move very quickly. We don’t need to hold many council meetings to implement a plan. We simply decide on a strategy and then we execute it.

“The launch of the new development in Heidelberg is not only an achievement for Eskort, but an expression of South Africa’s progress in the international market for pork processing. With this new facility, the future of Eskort is bright and full of promise,” says Prinsloo.