One of South Africa’s largest confectionery and confectionery producers, Richester Foods, has invested R20 million in new chocolate making facilities at its factory in Centurion, Gauteng.
The owner-managed private company, which started in 2005, already produces a wide range of confectionery – including chewy and hard-boiled sweets, caramels, eclairs, lollipops, chewing gum, chewing gum, ball gum, marshmallows and sorbet – and describes itself as having become “one of The main players in the sweet market in Africa “.
It launched a locally produced chocolate called Coco Bongo, which costs only R2.50 per. 21 g bar (same weight as a Chomp or Bar One Mini), in January – and has already sold over half a million bars.
The company aims to expand its production capacity to 20 million Coco Bongo bars per month over the next two years.
This is expected to get the factory to employ an additional 150 employees for its current team.
Richester Foods owner and MD Dr. Hussein Cassim says the affordable price of the Coco Bongo chocolate bar will increase profits along the value chain, including for various businesses, spaza shops and small vendors.
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“Conversely, we have manipulated the price tag to ensure that our customers are able to earn up to 100%, while selling Coco Bongo at an extremely affordable price to consumers,” he says.
“Instead of asking consumers to save days or weeks for luxury chocolate, we want Coco Bongo to be a part of consumers’ daily lives.”
Swiss input, African ingredients
He says the chocolate bar, which offers milk chocolate and a creamy center, is the result of research and international consultations with “chocolate masters” from Switzerland.
The bars are made from cocoa, bought primarily from farmers in Africa, while other ingredients are local.
“This is a pride for Richester Foods,” says Cassim.
“As a proud South African company, we want to play a meaningful role in job creation, and we do not want to be dependent on other countries to supply our product ingredients.”
The manufacturer now employs another 50 full-time employees in its new chocolate division, which has in-house coolers and cold rooms as well as laboratories for product testing.
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“There is fierce competition from entrenched brands, but we have the advantage over understanding local flavors and palates that we have incorporated into Coco Bongo,” says Cassim.
“Going forward, we also hope to take advantage of the market opportunities in neighboring countries to increase our footprint and market share.”
“Ultimately, we believe the chocolate market offers enormous growth potential with significant potential to unleash business and employment opportunities across the value chains,” he adds.
Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.