SOUTH AFRICA – PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa has launched a new production line at its Weet-Bix plant in Atlantis, West Cape worth R300m (about US$16.92m) in a quest to boost its production capacity.
Weet-Bix was first introduced in South Africa in 1930 and remains South Africa’s number one-selling breakfast cereal.
Made from whole grain wheat, Weet-Bix has for generations held pride of place at the South African breakfast table.
The commitment to invest in Weet-Bix was initially made during PepsiCo’s acquisition of Pioneers Foods in 2020 which was approved by the Competition Tribunal, subject to some public interest commitments.
The approval agreement committed R6.5bn (US$370 million) capital expenditure investment as an upgrade of the Weet-Bix value chain.
According to the company, the new production line will play a vital role in the community’s economy as 14 additional jobs will be created in a 24/7-hour operation across four shifts. The expansion came with an additional silo capacity to store 500 tonnes of wheat.
Meeting consumer trends and demands
PepsiCo’s investment is timely following the global consumer’s new trends and awareness in healthy, convenient, minimally processed foods and varied foods.
According to Hopewell Hlophe, manufacturing plant manager at the facility, the company is focused to increase production using a technology that enhances the efficiency and safety of the production process as well as the product.
“This investment is timely as we move towards a safer, more efficient, and sustainable food system. It’s also part of our commitment to investing in our operations,” says Tumi Matsheka, VP of supply chain at PepsiCo SSA.
Emerging trends in food and nutrition put PepsiCo at a competitive advantage in the provision of healthy breakfast cereals.
Its brand, Weet-Bix is a low-sugar product with few ingredients and utilizes minimal processed whole-grain wheat.
According to PepsiCo, the Weet-Bix volumes are expected to increase following the products’ health credentials in the healthy ready-to-eat cereals category.
In addition to R300m, the company has also spent R60m to upgrade the company’s Malmesbury Mill which is the only source of the specific cleaned wheat needed to produce Weet-Bix.
By so doing, the company is confident that the new production line will fuel the capacity for future growth enabling more focus on Weet-Bix innovation into new formats.
Moreover, the mill’s expansion is forecast to enable wheat supply for several years and ensure easier process control in the Weet-Bix cooking process.
This investment is strongly linked to PepsiCo Positive – a strategic end-to-end transformation with sustainability at the center of how the company will create growth and value by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people.
Towards a sustainable future energy
Beyond addressing global threats to the food system and achieving more sustainable production through technology, PepsiCo prides itself in contributing to a green energy source.
According to the company source, the facility is fitted with solar panels to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
So far, the facility can generate 1.8 million kWh of electricity per year, a positive move towards the reduction of GHGs by 75% against the company’s 2015 baseline.