In only nine years, the Walters family of Hilton and Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands has grown its handmade nougat business from supplying local farmers’ markets, to a fully fledged export business.
Wedgewood Handmade Confectionery (WHC) founders, Taffy and Gilly Walters are today supported by sons Steve, Jon and Paul, and daughters-in-law Fran and Mandy.
Getting into the export market wasn’t easy. When cold-calling on UK retail outlets proved fruitless, the Walters got the break they needed when the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) gave them a stand at a DTI-sponsored pavilion at the 2006 SIAL food show in France, attended by around 140 000 visitors. There importers from many countries, including the UK, Russia, Japan and the US, showed interest in their products.
With suppliers in place, air freight was the quickest and easiest option, but also very expensive. In two years, the volume increased to the point where sea freight became viable. Today, WHC’s export distribution network starts at the company’s Howick premises. Freight is transported by road to Durban’s airport or harbour, from where it’s transported to distribution warehouses in the UK, Switzerland or the US. Here the freight is dismantled and forwarded to sub-distributors or directly to retail outlets.
An open invitation
“In our experience, we’ve found there’s great interest for high quality South African food products,” says Steve. “We would like to invite local farmers interested in developing, or who already have value-adding facilities, to consider using our established export distribution network. Obviously there is a cost involved, but it will be reasonable. We have also sourced the most cost-effective, but competent distribution networks in all importing countries.”
Contact Steve Walters on 082 380 6228 or e-mail [email protected]. Visit www.gillywalters.co.za. |fw