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Unilever opens its first ice-cream factory in Africa

| Supplier news

Multinational goods firm Unilever SA continues to benefit from the Department of Trade and Industry’s multibillion-rand tax allowance incentive scheme, as the company opened the doors of its first ice-cream factory on African soil.

The company has pumped R600m into the venture, situated in Midrand’s Lords View Industrial Park — a sprawling, five-phase industrial and logistics park billed as one of the country’s most environmentally friendly developments.

The first phase of the park has kicked into gear, with the four others pegged for development in line with demand and industry needs.

The latest addition brings to 40 the total number of ice-cream factories Unilever has, most of which are dotted across the globe.

Since 2011, the department has incentivised Unilever projects to the tune of R1.9bn under the scheme, which favours both greenfield (new) and brownfield (upgrades or expansions) projects.

The incentive scheme was established in 2010 to boost the county’s manufacturing industry and has to date supported priority sectors identified in the Industrial Policy Action Plan. The 50 or so projects supported by the programme have a combined estimated worth of more than R40bn. Under the scheme, companies qualify for an investment allowance of up to R900m for greenfield projects that have preferred status and R550m for brownfield investments with similar status. The scheme also has an in-built training allowance of up to R30m for a qualifying project.

The department has extended the application window period for prospective beneficiaries from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2017.

Meanwhile, nearly 150 individuals from surrounding areas in Midrand have been employed at the Unilever factory. In addition, the venture has created 200 indirect jobs, officials said on Tuesday.

In line with the park’s environmental vision, the factory uses smart technology to harvest rain water, as well as recovers and reuses water utilised in its production processes. It will also apply a zero waste to landfill policy, as well as feature energy efficient technology.

Sandeep Desai, Unilever SA vice-president of manufacturing, said: "The refrigeration and utilities services are specifically designed to reduce the energy consumed through efficient motors, drive mixers and air compressors. This, combined with decreased water usage and responsible waste disposal, has an exponentially positive effect on the factory’s environmental impact."

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who was present at the official opening on Tuesday, said his department had actively collaborated with Unilever to ensure that the company’s investments were preserved within an enabling environment.

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