Graaff-Reinet family feeds market

Montego pet food big success.

Identifying a gap in the market for premium pet food set a Graaff-Reinet family business on the right course.

Prominent South African pet food brand Montego Pet Nutrition is manufactured in Graaff-Reinet, where it is the biggest private employer in town with 280 residents working at the factory, and in total 304 employees working for the company across the country.

Starting out with a staff complement of 11 people, chartered accountant Hannes van Jaarsveld, 62, founded the business in July 2000. Van Jaarsveld saw an opportunity in the market to develop a pet food that could compete with top quality overseas pet foods that were growing in popularity among South African pet lovers. Out of this opportunity the Montego Pet Nutrition Products were developed.

The company produced 60 tons of pet food in its first month of trading.

Van Jaarsveld’s son, Johan, 32, who has since last year taken over the reins from his father as managing director, said today the company produces on average 160 tons of pet food per day.

“We did not have the money for branded packaging and sold the pet food in grain bags. We had one salesperson who had to sell this new pet food across the country, clients had to pay us in advance for orders, and on top of it, they had to buy 2.85 tons at a time because of the mode of transport we used back then.”

Since that first month almost 15 years ago, the company continues to grow – with a 15% volume increase achieved last year. Montego pet food is sold in 1 600 retail stores across the country. The majority of these are pet shops and cooperatives, while about 150 vets also stock Montego products.

“The pets really like the food because it is a good quality product and we try to keep the price as low as possible. We have also kept the foundation on which the recipes of our products were developed the same throughout the years,” Johan said.

“Since 2008, we started to import our meat meal from Europe for quality reasons and improved on our formula over the years. The pet food has achieved a dry matter digestibility of 90%, , which puts it in the super-premium classification category of pet food.”

-Cindy Preller 

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