“The most important part is to get a buyer for the factory. We are very grateful for the constructive interaction.”
Grant Smuts, vice-chair of Growers Consortium, the group of farmers who want to buy L&AF from Tiger Brands, said they were “very happy” with the extension but it was not an “ideal situation as a farming community” because to keep the L&AF facility going they had to accept lower prices for fruit they produced for it.
The farmers in the consortium are part of the 300 farmers who supply produce to L&AF.
“We have no choice. We have to keep this factory going and try and get a decent settlement in the next two to three months,” said Smuts.
Tiger Brands, which owns brands such as Jungle Oats, Koo canned foods and All Gold tomato sauce, said on Tuesday the “decision was taken after a compact was agreed upon with organised labour, L&AF employees and members of the Canning Fruit Producers Association that allows the company to undertake the significant risk required to operate the business for the forthcoming season”.
“Flexibility, open-mindedness and good faith was shown by all parties in reaching this decision, while securing the jobs of 250 permanent employees and 4,300 seasonal workers directly employed by L&AF for a further season,” said CEO Noel Doyle.
Tiger Brands said it would continue to engage with interested parties towards executing a transaction that could provide for the continuation of a sustainable deciduous fruit processing operation beyond the 2022/3 season.
In June 2022, Tiger Brands started consultations and engagements on the future of the business “in the absence of any reasonable prospects of a viable transaction at the end of an exhaustive two-year process”.
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