Dutoit Group: A small start leads to great success for this company

The Dutoit Group is celebrating 130 years as a leader in South African agriculture. From Gysbertus du Toit settling on Kromfontein Farm in the Western Cape and planting the first fruit trees in 1893, to becoming one of the largest family-owned fresh produce businesses, this trendsetting agricultural investment company has a lot to celebrate.

Through innovation and dedication, this business is a top producer and distributor of high-quality fruits and vegetables in South Africa, with no signs of slowing down. In fact, Dutoit continues to thrive and has experienced continuous growth over the years, always prioritising customer satisfaction as well as both business and green integration.

The organisation incorporates du Toit Family, Dutoit Beherend and Dutoit Group, which includes Dutoit Agri, Newtrend Farms (which focuses on joint ventures with existing successful farmers), Dutoit Invest, Dutoit International and empowerment initiative, Libland.

Heavily rooted in South Africa, Dutoit is a truly international brand with well-established and profitable alliances and capital investments globally. This not only complements their current activities but are important platforms and partnerships for future expansion when it comes to market access, new products and new technology.

Located approximately 200 kilometres north of Cape Town, lies the Koue Bokkeveld, literally translated as “Cold Buck Shrubland” with winters so harsh that the original settlers had to be paid special subsidies to settle in the area. But with its fertile ground and fresh mountain water, Dutoit’s original stronghold has become synonymous with quality South African produce for both local and international consumption.

Today, Dutoit has almost 5 000 hectares of fruit and vegetables under irrigation in the lower altitude Warm Bokkeveld, the Berg River and Sandveld regions as well as in the Langkloof in the Eastern Cape, in addition to the original higher altitude Koue Bokkeveld region.

Traditional and new varieties of apples and pears make up the bulk of Dutoit’s produce, along with stone fruit which includes nectarines, plums, peaches and cherries. Dutoit packs between four and five million fruits per day, with 110 000 tons of fruit and 78 000 tons of vegetables packed every year.

When it comes to vegetables, Dutoit incorporates six farms, specialising in onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Annually, the business produces 50 000 tons of onions, 20 000 tons of potatoes, 8 000 tons of sweet potatoes, as well as shallots, pumpkins and fresh garlic.

“While there has been significant innovation and transformation in agriculture over the last 130 years, what has remained resolute is our mission to produce, pack, market and distribute quality fresh produce for our clients and customers,” says Willem Coetzee, Chief Operating Officer at Dutoit.

Family heritage and value remain at the heart of the company, with the next generations of du Dutoit family members playing a vital role in the day-to-day operations.

Green integration and caring for the environment have become a key focus for Dutoit over the last few decades. Commitment to implementing innovative sustainable solutions, management of biodiversity, the responsible use of natural resources and the minimizing and responsible handling of waste are key to their operations. Operations within the Dutoit group focus heavily on the long-term sustainable use of water, with the organisation having implemented infrastructural changes and the use of short-radius micro-sprinklers or drippers to use water effectively and with as little wastage and evaporation as possible.

Locally, Dutoit Invest strives to unlock various opportunities in the secondary agricultural sector, specifically when it comes to the processing and preserving of fruit and vegetables, to improve
productivity, profitability and sustainable production systems.

Another element to the company’s ongoing success is its passion for its people and producers. During peak harvesting season, Dutoit employs in excess of 8000 workers, and is committed to the recruitment, training and development of the people who work on their farms, and to the surrounding communities.

“As a leading farming, packing and marketing enterprise, we recognise that our employees underpin the core of the business, and that it is our social responsibility to empower and support the people in the communities we operate in,” Coetzee says.

As such, Dutoit has established partnerships with leading experts in the field of social development in order to significantly improve the well-being of communities, to create a feeling of inclusiveness, and to motivate employees to take part in the development of their communities.

Youth education, healthcare, social development and sport and recreation are some of the pillars of the socio-economic development initiatives run by Dutoit. This includes maintenance of the primary schools located on the estates and study schemes, loans and bursaries to enable children of employees to progress into tertiary education. A Health Plan sees qualified nurses, trained healthcare workers and fully equipped clinics provide services on a weekly basis at the various farms and pack houses.

“We are incredibly proud of the legacy that Dutoit has established over the last 130 years, a testament to our commitment, resilience and dedication to excellence. We want to pay tribute to every person who has played a role in our success, most importantly our employees who nurture our produce and handle it with the care it needs to ensure that the best quality products reach our customers,” says Coetzee.

Coinciding with the Group’s 130th birthday was a recent staff appreciation event, which saw 65 staff members receive long-service awards, one of which was Gys du Toit Senior, who celebrated 50 years at the company.

Read the full article: Netwerk24