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MP Walter Maphanga, MP Dumile Maloyi and Chairperson of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, MP Rosina Semenya at Cavalier Meats

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries visited Cavalier Meats in Cullinan, Gauteng, as part of its’ oversight over the Land Bank, the development finance institution. The bank has a stake in Cavalier Meats, which was founded in 1998 by Mr Jaborls Lerische, a veterinarian.

Cavalier Meats approached the Land Bank for assistance to become a shareholder-based company. Land Bank undertook to observe and guide business operations over the next 24 months and has invested R62 million into the company. The Land Bank has brought about some changes by bringing people of colour into management and introducing a Board. The Land Bank would like to see 35% of the company black-owned and will drive this agenda.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Machwene Semenya, welcomed the empowering workers by turning them into shareholders, but cautioned the Land Bank to seek black-economic empowerment companies who will invest in the company and see it grow.

Founder of Cavalier Meats Mr Lerische wanted to enter the meat trade and back then he sourced his meat in Windhoek and sold the carcasses at the Johannesburg market. Four years later he bought an abattoir in Boksburg and the business grew from slaughtering 300 lambs to 1 500 lambs a day presently.

The company is jointly owned by the Land Bank at 19.9%, Griekwaland Wes Kooperatief Ltd at 31.7% and the Founding Members at 48.4%. As part of the Land Bank’s transformation and developmental agenda, the company will be listed in 18 months and the 1 400 employees will become shareholders.

Cavalier Meats provides work for the communities around Cullinan and 50% of its staff complement are female. It believes in the concept of farm to fork, sourcing the lamb and cattle from both small holder and commercial farmers, growing their own feedstock, slaughtering and packaging the meat products at the plant and then renting retail space in 23 Woolworths stores. Cavalier Meats has shown that agro-processing can be a success.

The company currently prepacks 250 tons of meat and supplies 300 tons of wholesale carcasses a week to the retail market. Cavalier Meats supplies 70% of the national consumption for Woolworths. As part of Woolworths’ Good Business Journey concept, Cavalier Meats has installed solar panels for energy, which also provide shade for the sheep. It has also built a renewable energy plant, which uses the methane gas given off when the blood and condemned material is cooked and this in turn runs two generators. Plans are afoot to build a pre-school on site for the children of the employees next year.

Cavalier has received the order to supply 200 tons of pre-packed biltong and 90 tons of bulk biltong a year to Woolworths and construction to expand the plant has begun to accommodate this expansion.

Sureshinee Govender
12 October 2018