A portal for produce

Historic Joburg Market adapts to a smart future

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Joburg Market can trace its roots to the establishment of the fresh produce market at Market Square in central Johannesburg in 1887, where three thousand people congregated to trade in fresh produce. As the city grew, so did the trading of fresh produce, prompting the building of a new facility in Newtown in 1913. By this time,

Market had achieved an annual turnover of R1.5 million. The premises in Newtown became too small and by 1974 the market relocated to its current location in City Deep, where it operates on a commission market system. We spoke to CEO Ayanda Kanana to find out more about this thriving agricultural institution.

Joburg Market never sleeps. Apart from a window period for deliveries, closing Saturdays at 14h00pm and re-opening Sundays at 14h00pm for deliveries, it is open 24/7, with sales hours Monday to Saturday from 05h00am to 11h00 daily. “Joburg Market has a staff complement of 302 permanent and at least 100 contracted employees. Like most businesses, JM has specialised expertise in finance, HR, marketing and communications, food safety, engineering, and so on,” says Kanana.

Produce from 7283 local and foreign farmers finds its way to Joburg Market. “Anyone who wishes to send a producer, supplier / packhouse or speculator in their own capacity can send produce to the Joburg Market, provided they are registered on the sales processing system. Credentials and trading information are captured on the trading system and each delivery consignment is recorded against a unique producer code number. They also have to comply with basic food safety and traceability requirements and be aware of the enforcement of regulations regarding quality standards,” explains Kanan.

Although there are no specific minimum or maximum volume restrictions per consignment, other factors do influence these elements, including available floor space and supply and demand. “High demand for a given commodity can determine volumes supplied or stored by an agent at any given time,” says Kanana.

Producers can count on a fair deal: “The sales processing system is fully traceable and transparent and is monitored and controlled in terms of price variances to ensure producers are treated fairly,” says Kanana.

Convenience of use

To register with Joburg Market, new suppliers have the option of logging on to the market website on www.Joburgmarket.co.za and obtaining the different market agents’ contact details who will in turn get in touch with the specific salesperson dealing with the specific commodities they are sending. The market agent then advises the supplier on different elements in terms of what, how and when to supply their goods.

“Most new suppliers contact Joburg Market first and are guided to the consignment control department where the registration process is explained telephonically or by email. “Suppliers are however always advised to pay the market a visit to experience the processes hands-on. The consignment control staff accompany the new suppliers to the sales floors and explain the process step by step. There is a producer code information application form available which is then completed with the relevant information, and a unique producer code is created on the sales processing system which the supplier will use on each and every consignment sent to the Market for traceability purposes,” Kanana explains.

Registration new producers takes no longer than five minutes. Suppliers visiting the Market for the first time can also immediately register at the gate entrance on arrival, although it is always advisable to first obtain an agent who will sell the produce on the producer’s behalf as an agreement between the two parties has to be created on the system. Details required in the delivery note book after registration include: Product details, farmers’ details, market agent details, salesmen details, consignment destination, and quality of produce e.g. class packaging size and weight. The consignment control department captures the data on the system and creates a barcode reference which the agent uses to generate a Goods Received Note Number on the sales floor. The SPS then creates a unique short sequence number which the agent uses to sell the goods on the system.

Producers are free to add value to their products. “Consumers of today value time as money, so farmers have an opportunity to add value to the product -- floor ready, sliced and diced, ready to heat, ready to eat, etc., as well as smaller packing for smaller families,” Kanana comments.

Small farmers can expect the same treatment as large-scale commercial farmers. “We provide the same level of services to all our farmers. We appreciate their differences, but our value proposition is the same,” says Kanana. “We have over 23 000 buyers who purchase produce on a daily basis on the market, buying from R100 per month to over R50 million per month. Some buyers who purchase produce on the Market export to the SADC region.”

Emerging farmers need not feel excluded as Joburg Market is there to cater for them with assistance to help them up their commercial game. “We have a quality assurance department that conducts farm visits and hosts emerging farmers on the market. During the visit, information is shared regarding the requirements of the Agricultural Product Standard Act, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and best practices eg. packaging, transport, cold chain management, etc,” says Kanana.

Conveniently located in the City Deep industrial area, Joburg Market has access to and from major highways so that farmers and buyers are able to move their products with relative ease.

Smart adaptation

The only constant in a changing world is change, and Joburg Market has faced its share of challenges in recent years. “A major challenges is that volumes have grown at a very low rate over the last 10 to 15 years. Other fresh produce channels such as direct sales from farmers to buyers have grown significantly. We have seen an increase in competition from the establishment and development of new markets. Increasing requirements from customers for compliance to food safety and HACCP standards are also challenging for some producers,” says Kanana.

Despite these challenges, Kanana is proud of what Joburg Market has achieved: “We service over 7000 farmers and over 23 000 buyers on a daily basis. We make daily payments to market agents so that farmers can receive their sales proceeds on a daily basis. We have record sales of R752 million in one month. We enjoy a state-of-the-art Centralized Trading System that manages all transactions and a SANAS accredited laboratory on site with qualified staff.”

Since accepting the position of CEO in 2017, Kanana has overseen a strategic review to focus on creating efficiencies through a “smart market” approach – with spectacular results. “This approach is customer centric and aims to use technology as an enabler. We have also developed a precinct plan that will see the much-needed rejuvenation of the Joburg Market infrastructure. To date, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) has allocated over R300 million in the term as a sign of commitment to the growth and economic prosperity of the Market. During the same period, the turnover of the Market has grown by almost a R1.1 billion. In the 2016/17 financial year, the turnover amounted to R6.8 billion. For the 2018/19 financial year, we are at a resounding R7.9 billion (unaudited). This is fundamental step and an affirmation of our adopted strategic direction.

Looking to the future, it is Kanana’s intention for Joburg Market to strive to be a clean, safe and smart market through the fusion of technology, best practices, people and smart devices. “We are introducing smart systems and smart facilities to all our stakeholders. Capital investment in infrastructure will upgrade the facility to meet industry requirements. Investment in training and development of staff will develop capacity and expertise. We are also going to build a packhouse facility for emerging farmers to assist them with the regulatory, packing and logistic challenges they face as individuals,” he concludes. 

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