O’Kin: Combining tradition with a forward-thinking approach

The ability to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer trends is one of a company’s best assets when done effectively. Within the South African meat industry, a series of mergers and acquisitions resulted in a rebranding and the emergence last year of a new player: O’Kin.

In the past 12 months O’Kin has strengthened its position through a series of acquisitions; all of which have been overseen by Frans Roussow, CEO, who spoke with The SA-Mag earlier this year:

“O’Kin manufactures and distributes ready to eat, pre-cooked, fresh and frozen assorted cold meats, sausages, crumbed meat products, fresh pork cuts, whole muscle meats and cured meat products.

shutterstock_90081781“The company is privately owned by 5 share holders of which the majority share holding is with the O’Connor brothers Alan and Gavin,” he described.

“O’Kin was formed by merging 3 businesses over the past 6 months. Flagstaff was the business originally owned by the shareholders. During 2013 Trademeats and Roers were acquired. The 3 factories are currently operating largely independently but function under the O’Kin umbrella.” 

Flagstaff’s history began when Flagstaff Frozen Foods (Pty) Ltd commenced business in November 2005 and opened a cold meat manufacturing facility in Montague Gardens. The company supplied vienna’s, Russians and polonies to the same markets as another company called N1Meat (Pty) Ltd.

N1Meat had started out in May 2006 when it opened a retail butchery and meat processing / manufacturing facility in Maitland. The company supplied the retail and wholesale markets with low cost fresh and frozen meat products including braaiwors and burgers.  

“The 2 businesses were merged in March 2008 given the same markets that the businesses operated in and the expected cost savings of combining the 2 operations together. The merged business operated out of an export approved manufacturing facility in Maitland and has been accredited by FSA for food safety with a 92 per cent pass rate.  200 people are employed by Flagstaff,” stated Roussow.

At present O’Kin operates 3 manufacturing units, located in Montague Gardens, Maitland and Malmesbury, in the Western Cape. The company operates to strictest of standards in a regulated environment and has attained the following certifications:

FSA Intertek Food Safety Management System Certificate of Achievement; Approved ZA Export Certification; International Britannia Limited (IBL) Hygiene Accreditation and SABS certified HACCP.

“As a retailer you need to provide quality food to various wholesale markets. Markets that require different products at different value structures. By doing this, you want to associate with excellence, cost-effectiveness or even both. Whatever your market, quality remains key, and these days manufacturers often struggle to get the balance right,” affirms the company website.

Such credentials are endearing to would be customers and O’Kin counts a number of South Africa’s leading retailers among its clientele:

“Our major clients include retailers such as Shoprite, Checkers, Spar, Fruit & Veg, Pick ‘n Pay and Massmart as well as catering companies such as Bidvest.  We also provide contract manufacturing for private labels of retailers and Flagstaff was voted by Shoprite as “Upcoming Supplier of the Year 2012 – Western Cape Region” and was a finalist in their national awards,” Roussow said.

Whilst the O’Kin name is a fairly recent development, the company’s roots are entrenched in history, as the corporate website explains:

“Ever since the 1940′s, these foods have been uniquely manufactured. Traditional recipes and natural smoking methods have formed the basis of our manufacturing processes. Accompanied by standardised operational systems, O’Kin manufactures over 200 product lines.

shutterstock_142786300“It all started early in the 1940′s, when Julius Roer from Malmesbury and H. Otto from Elim joined their businesses together in Malmesbury selling German deli specialities such as salami, Frankfurters and other cured and cold meats under the Roers and Elim names.

“In 1998 another successful food company arrived on the Western Cape food manufacturing scene when Trade Meat was established in Montague Gardens, supplying quality pork bangers, boerewors and fresh pork products to various retailers. In later years a crumbing line was introduced to manufacture crumbed pork and chicken products.

“In 2005, Flagstaff Frozen Foods was established supplying Vienna’s, Russians and polonies. Increased demand for Flagstaff’s products necessitated a move to larger premises in Maitland, where the business expanded into supplying fresh and frozen meat and deli products to the retail and wholesale markets.

“In 2013 the 3 established processing plants of Roers, Trade Meat and Flagstaff joined forces to form O’Kin.”

The change of name to O’Kin was a major move, as Roussow explained:

We wanted a name that will bring all 3 factories together that is unrelated to the previous company names and that will be appropriate for future expansion. The company values are very important to us and O’Kin stands for sound traditional family values that underpin our daily business decisions and relationships with our people, suppliers and clients.

“Upon completion products from all 3 plants will be rebranded and sold under the Elim and O’Franks brands,” he said at the time we spoke.

O’Kins may be a new name in the meat industry, but its foundations have been carefully laid for many more years of success.