Capespan North America

Grower Profiles

A.L.G. Estates | Western Cape

A.L.G. Estates includes five farms situated in the Western Cape region in South Africa on the upper reaches of the Olifants River Valley near Citrusdal in the hub of the Western Cape’s citrus industry - some 100 miles north of Cape Town.

This region is located between the 32nd and 35th degree latitude, renowned for its temperate Mediterranean climate with hot summers and wet cold winters where most of the world’s top quality fruit, grapes and olives are produced. The origins of the estate can be traced back to the Dutch occupation of the Cape – South Africa’s founding years.

Then known as Fisher Capespan, Capespan North America was the first company to import A.L.G.’s citrus into North America and over the years, A.L.G. and Capespan North America have forged a strong relationship. The fruit produced for the North American market include: soft citrus: Satsumas, Clementines and Fairchilds; oranges: Navels, Midknights and Valencias; Eureka lemons; Star Ruby grapefruit; new varieties: Morr, Orr, Vinola, seedless lemons and early Minneolas.

The two directors, father and son, Gerrit senior and Gerrit junior, have earned a reputation as innovative leaders in the citrus industry. Some salient points about their achievements are:

  • Production has grown from 1 930 tons in 1975 to 15 800 tons in 2010
  • Citrus varieties were increased from five to 26 during this period
  • Their season was stretched from five months to 10 months, which makes it the estate with the longest citrus season in South Africa. The estate aims to produce citrus all year round by 2014
  • Research projects are continuously conducted in collaboration with research institutions to improve product quality, stretch the season and also make a contribution to the citrus industry
  • A.L.G. Estates opened up the USA market for South African exporters by founding the Citrus Producers Trust (CPT), now boasting 300 members
  • The estate pioneered the art of citrus orchard pruning in South Africa to increase production, use less water and reduce their dependability on pesticides. For this, they developed their own orchard-pruning machine named the AllCut of which about 200 units have been sold worldwide

Well aware of its social responsibility in uplifting workers, the estate was the first citrus operation in the country to start a redevelopment project as far back as 1999. The two brothers donated 40 hectares to 36 of their most loyal workers and founded the company Cedar Citrus (Pty) Ltd, giving each of the workers an equal share. Cedar Citrus exported its first produce in 2005 and the break-even point for the investment has now been reached. They also aim to extend the project to include 50 workers with shares in the pack house. ALG is the only citrus producer in South Africa accredited by Fairtrade and the Cedar Citrus farm has been exporting Fairtrade-accredited citrus through Capespan North America for several years.

The estate has also made an investment in its workers by looking after their social and educational needs. These include two crèches, a school up to grade 8, a sports club actively involved in rugby and netball leagues, as well as social clubs for ladies and the aged. Bursaries are awarded regularly to students who perform well.

A.L.G. Estates controls its whole citrus production chain from the orchard to the retail outlet. The fruit is processed and packed in its own pack house while a considerable proportion is labelled for selected clients. More than 200 tons a day is packed at the estate pack house, with a further 250 tons a day being packed at another pack house.

Most of the produce is sold in supermarket chains such as Walmart, Costco, Wegmans and WholeFoods in the USA; Marks & Spencer and ASDA in the UK; Carrefour and Jumbo in the EU; and Woolworths and Shoprite Checkers in South Africa. Produce also reaches a number of African countries, Russia and the Middle East.

A.L.G. Estate is South Africa’s biggest private exporter of citrus to the USA. The organisation’s philosophy is to provide good service levels and great quality through a hands-on approach from picking and packing to marketing and shipping.

Cedarpack (Pty) Ltd | Western Cape

Established in 2000, Cedarpack has been one of Capespan North America’s valued citrus suppliers since inception and is situated in the Citrusdal area in the Western Cape, South Africa.

This business is located in Citrusdal, Western Cape, where the sandy soil, excellent water quality, low prevalence of pests and Mediterranean climate are conducive to excellent fruit quality.

A comprehensive range of citrus is harvested and packed from June until November. Clementines and Navels are harvested mid-June; Novas and more Navels until end-July; Clemlates and Navellates throughout August; Mandarins and late summer Navels until end-September; finishing the season with Midknights and late Mandarins at the beginning of November.

With a staff of 14 in the pack house and eight in the office, the company employs 120 seasonal workers during the season. The pack house has degreening rooms, cold rooms, packing and sorting lines.

This small, family-orientated business has a strong work ethic and everybody there is fanatical about the quality of their products. Citrus is Cedarpack’s passion and director Piet Smit said, “We like what we do and we’re good at it. Most importantly, we do business with integrity and honesty. Our relationship with Capespan North America has been outstanding, because our business is based on mutual respect and trust.”

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