How have operations evolved in the last few years?
AMIT AGRAWAL Olam continues to do well. We have been able to double our capacity in flour and biscuits and we recently added a cocoa processing facility. Our current focus is on expanding in the food space, and our projects are in staples, such as rice and flour, and packaged foods. We are currently the market leader in biscuits in Ghana and our tomato line is the top-selling brand. We are now looking into new categories such as noodles, pasta, juices, yogurt drinks, and snack foods. These products will be a new entry in the Ghanaian market, though we already participate in these categories in Nigeria. Most of these will happen through investment in local manufacturing.
REGGIE SACKEY-ADDO Irani Brothers was set up 50 years ago. The second generation is now running this close-knit family business, and they are the major shareholders. Starting with just one mill, over the years the company has grown to five mills. We import our wheat, mostly from Canada and Russia. We have experienced and highly educated technicians running the day-to-day operations of the company. Those people report to the board of directors, who in turn report to the shareholders. We have the customer at the heart of our operations. The quality of our wheat, the state-of-the-art machinery, and everything is at a premium.
Agribusiness in Ghana has moved to a progressive consolidation, with five major players. How do you plan to maintain your competitive edge?
AA In the last few years, we have acquired several companies in Ghana. In 2015, we acquired a company in cocoa processing, and we continue to be relatively ambitious with our Ghana operations and will look for opportunities in the consolidation phase. We expect robust growth between 6 and 8% at least. We also expect the government to stabilize the currency. It is a promising outlook. Our budget planning for next year is currently based on an assumption of robust growth.
RSA Over the years, Irani has always maintained the quality of its products. We provide the best quality wheat flour in the market. We do not distribute; we just produce. Over the years, we have developed dedicated customers. We do not do much marketing but have loyal customers because of the quality of our product. Until recently there were three flour mills in the country. Today, we have five mills and locally we don't think there is any more room for expansion. Currently, all the companies are trying to protect their market share. This is why we are not looking at local expansion, but instead the export market. The issue with the export market has to do with the ECOWAS protocols. The difficulties and challenges are still there, even if we want to follow the EU model. Some of the competition has found ways to export, though we have not really gotten there yet. We do have a few customers coming in from the neighboring sub-region to buy, though they do not return more than three times, because of the difficulties they experience at the borders. We seek to consolidate our position. We have registered for exports; however, we are not too focused on that and instead concentrate on our local market share.
What investments, especially in technology, do you seek to bring in to consolidate your position in the market?
AA Technology is the backbone of our growth and is the only reason we are able to continue to scale up quickly. One example is Olam Information System, which is the technological platform that we use in our sustainability programs with our partners. We have our IT processes integrated with mobile phone technology. These systems are used extensively both for our supply chain partners and for internal customer management.
RSA Technology plays a large role in our operation. We are using state-of-the-art machinery. We have a 24-hour service with an Austrian engineer and a core team of qualified people. We invest in any machinery that will maintain or improve the quality of our product. Our lab analyzes all our products before they go out onto the market. We are firm on that and do not compromise on the machinery we use.