SOUTH AFRICA – South African packaged food group, Tiger Brands has officially opened its new Oat Mill worth R208m (US$12.9m) for its first and oldest product Jungle Oats in Cape Town, with the launch coinciding with the product’s 100th anniversary.

The iconic South African brand Jungle Oats dates back to 1920 when an immigrant by the name of Jacob Frankel opened the original Tiger Oatery in Moorreesburg, Western Cape.

The factory, which launched the Tiger Brands Group, produced Tiger Oats, the breakfast oatmeal we know today as Jungle Oats.

The consumer-packaged goods giant approved the capital investment of R208m (US$12.9m) in 2017 for the mill, when the original Maitland facility kept running out of milling capacity.

Speaking at the launch event, unit manager Rees De Villiers said, “Jungle Oats used to be a very seasonal winter porridge. It then evolved into a breakfast staple throughout the year. Despite the mill running 24 hours a day, it wasn’t able to meet demand.”

“With this state-of-the-art building and technology, the new mill has increased efficiencies and significantly improved output,” he added

It has also reduced manufacturing costs and food waste thanks to its advanced technology both proprietary and off the shelf and smart design.

Despite the increased output, the overall carbon footprint has been reduced through the installation of higher-efficiency motors which reduces the kilowatts of energy used to produce a tonne of oats.

The new mill features no windows, with air quality controlled by a computerised air management system.

In addition, a computerised control system provides information on live yields, allowing staff to drive efficiencies continuously. The facility can also be managed remotely using a mobile app.

De Villiers said that a major accomplishment for the company is the ability of the new mill to mimic the unique century-old process of manufacturing Jungle Oats, but now using new technology and modern equipment to do so.

The mill will secure employment for roughly 180 employees in addition to the ten black South African farmers, who will plant 100 ha of oats this year, through the company’s Smallholder Farmer Programme

As oat milling is a scarce skill, the increased production capacity at the new facility also led the company to develop its own in-house skills programme.

“We were able to upskill current millers to run the new technology, and the programme enlarged our talent pool of millers because we upskilled and promoted other staff to help run the mill,” said De Villiers.

At the launch event, Mandy Du Plessis, managing director Jungle, introduced the way forward for Jungle Oats from a communication perspective.

The brand will be shifting away from its message of being ‘The Energy Champion’ and will now focus on heart health and wellness, given the challenges South Africa is faced with.

“The stats say that 225 people die every day from heart problems, and 80% of these cases could have been prevented with better health and nutrition,” said Du Plessis.

The new communication programme revolves around ‘Doing Life with Heart’, and will prioritise Jungle Oats as a source of beta-glucen, and communicate the significant health benefits around it.

Jungle Oats packaging will also sport a new, refreshed look and will include more health and nutritional information on pack for consumers.