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Gogo Group opens new R100 million citrus pack house in Mpumalanga

| Supplier news

The Gogo Group, one of South Africa top producers and exporters of citrus, has opened a new state-of-the-art packing facility in Groblersdal, Mpumalanga, at an investment of over R100 million.

The quality-control systems and procedures implemented at the pack house enables the Group to export its fruit to international markets that has some of the most stringent standards in the world.

“We are commited to quality and this, combined with a dedication to a low turnaround time from when the fruit is picked to when it is sold in a foreign market, ensures great-looking fruit,” says Eben Kruger, a director of the Gogo Group. “This is exactly the near-perfection that international markets expects from produce today, and we are continuously improving our facilities, products and procedures to adhere to these exacting demands.”

The new 8 000m² packing facility is fitted with advanced machinery, robotics and technology to ensure fully automatic classification and sorting of the fruit. A total of 300 people are employed on a permanent basis at the facility to pack around 90 tonnes of fruit every hour.

The Gogo Group and EKM Exports were established in 1998, and has 815 hectares of orchards under production in the Groblersdal and Marble Hall region, which forms part of the Loskop Dam Water Scheme. Most of the fruit trees are under net covering to conserve the fruit’s quality, and a full-time team maintains the netting throughout the year. 

The company produces and exports citrus, including lemons and various varieties of oranges, as well as table grapes to Canada, Europe, the Middle East, India, Bangladesh, the Far East and South East Asia. The Gogo Group employs around 2 200 people across its various operations.

EKM Exports, the marketing arm of the Gogo Group, is expected to export around 2 500 shipping containers or three and a half million cartons of fruit this year, which translates into approximately 64 000 tonnes of produce.  

The citrus are marketed and sold as Gogo Red Super Class 1 and Gogo Blue Class 1 and 2. South African cricket star AB de Villiers is Gogo Fruit’s brand ambassador and his image is used on boxes sold in cricket-playing countries like India and Bangladesh.

Since inception, the company was committed to produce a premium citrus brand in terms of consistency and quality. 

“Internationally, especially in China, only the best produce are allowed into their markets, and the fruit has to be without any damage or imperfections, ” says Kruger. “For this reason, we have adapted and implemented a number of world-class systems and leading technology to enable us to successfully compete in these markets.”

The Gogo Group also has a 9 500m² refrigerated storing and sterilisation facility on site to ensure constant temperature control which has to be around -1.5°C, according to Chinese quality regulations. This is the only inland cold-room facility for citrus, loading 150 containers per week destined for Steri-Markets, which requires stringent sterilisation measures to kill any possible fungus and disease which may develop on the fruit.

This also means an uninterrupted cold chain from the time of packing, to the fruit being exported out of the Durban Harbour and onto the ship all the way to its destination. 

There are also permanent independent inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB), on site to ensure the quality standards of the fruit.

“Gogo’s management and staff have an intense desire to succeed, to innovate and to deliver a consistent service to our clients.  We are also proud to represent the best of South African produce on the international market, and will continue to invest in our people and our country to the benefit of our greater community,” concludes Kruger. 

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