Tiger Brands said it will now continue to run the factory until 2023 following an agreement with organised labour, employees and the Canning Fruit Producers Association.
Agri SA said the decision to keep a fruit canning factory in operation in Ashton for at least another season is a vital lifeline for the sector.
Tiger Brands had decided to exit the deciduous fruit business in May 2020 and that meant the sale or closure of the Langeberg and Ashton Foods factory, one of the largest in Africa.
But, the company said it will now continue to run the factory until 2023 following an agreement with organised labour, employees and the Canning Fruit Producers Association.
Tiger is still looking for a buyer.
Agri SA has welcomed Tiger Brands’ decision, calling it a vital reprieve for the industry and for the communities that rely on the facility for their livelihoods.
The lobby group has however warned the threat is not over, as the latest move is temporary and no permanent solution has yet been found.
It said it’s important that the national and provincial governments support the producers and workers to find an effective solution as the factory’s products occupy a niche position in the world market, bringing in hundreds of millions of rands in foreign currency.
Agri SA said if the factory were to close its doors about 300 farmers would have no alternative market for their produce adding it’s also the biggest single source of income for the Langeberg Municipality.
Langeberg and Ashton Foods have around 250 permanent employees and more than four thousand seasonal workers also depend on it for income.