Nutritional Foods celebrates 60 years of success
Nutritional Foods, the country’s largest manufacturer of powdered food products for the social catering market and the largest contract spray-drying company in the country, celebrates its diamond anniversary this year.
The company was created in 1944 to consolidate the food-manufacturing ventures of the Suzman family, who had established Sungold Products and Dehydrated Products. Both companies made a variety of foodstuffs for refugees of the Second World War.
Nutritional Foods then developed a high-protein soup powder, Protone, to supplement the diets of gold-mine labourers. Protone gained world-wide attention and was eagerly accepted by Oxfam, Red Cross and the Department of Health.
In the 1950s the gold mines decided a mid-shift meal should be given underground. In response, Nutiritional Foods developed Puzamandhla, a high-energy, fortified powdered mahewu. For this, the company erected the first spray-drying tower on site at Industria. For nearly twenty years, Nutritional Foods marketed Protone and Puzamandhla worldwide.
In the 1960s, Nutritional Foods erected its second spray-drying tower, to make instant coffee. The company continued to expand its spray-drying range with fruit and vegetable powders.
Nutritional Foods was the first company in the country to produce coffee creamers, which it started to do on contract for other companies in the 1970s.
In 1980, the company acquired Clifton Manufacturers and so entered the market for consumer retail products. It went on to advance the production and marketing of powdered soft drinks, not only in retail, but also in the institutional catering market. The range of catering products was expanded to include soya-based soups and stews, milk blends, hot chocolate drink powders and desserts.
Funa Foods was Nutritional Foods’ next acquisition, in 1998, and this almost doubled the company’s size in the catering market. With Funa Foods came a modern processing plant in Klerksdorp, which is where most of the company’s catering products are now manufactured, still largely for the mines and relief feeding schemes.
While Clifton was sold in May 2004, Nutritional Foods still retains a retail presence with its Country Pasture milk blends and Bravo gravy powder and manufactures a number of house-brand products.
Nutritional Foods’ structure includes three marketing divisions, for catering, food ingredients, and retail. Each adds new products to its list in an innovative search for growth through research and development. This combined with a high priority on quality assurance helps to ensure that Nutritional Foods retains its leading position.