In this interview, Roland Decorvet talks to Jaco Maritz, from How We Made It In Africa, about agribusiness trends in Africa and highlights some of the opportunities in its food industry.

Click here to the read the full article.

Have a listen as Philafrica CEO Roland Decorvet talks to Abongile Nzelenzele from the Early Breakfast Show at Cape Talk Radio about the recent COVID19 relief donation of Gold Power yellow Maize meal. Philafrica’s family of companies, AFGRI Animal Feeds, AFGRI Milling, and Nedan, came together to provide 2.8 million meals to 12 000 homes in vulnerable communities across South Africa.

Listen to the interview below or click here.

In an interview with CNN Money Switzerland, Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods, sees similarities between 1990s China and the Africa of today. He cites Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa as an example, saying it looks like Beijing back in 1992. “It has strong government involvement, infrastructure being built, and a subway many European cities don’t have,” says Decorvet. In part two, he calls for more meaningful investment in Africa and talks about the role Switzerland, and Europe overall, must play to support growth.

Click here to watch the interview.

Source: CNN Money Switzerland

In an interview with CNN Money Switzerland, Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods, says his company is not just about helping Africa, but rather trying to industrialize the continent. “We’re not giving handouts for people to survive,” he says. “We’re creating jobs, factories, and we’re helping farmers supply their crops to us at a good price.” In part three, Decorvet, the ex-Nestlé China head, talks about his goal to make Africa more self-sustainable.

Click here to watch the interview.

Source: CNN Money Switzerland

Philafrica Foods has taken up a majority shareholding in Sunshine Bakery effective 1 April 2019.  Sunshine Bakery is a branded regional player with the potential to expand nationally. Sunshine Bakery currently manufactures and distributes bread under the Sunshine Brand from its

Pietermaritzburg as well as its Durban based bakeries. This acquisition forms part of Philafrica Food’s strategic drive to participate meaningfully with branded offerings in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods market.

The world will feed itself in Africa where the land is – Roland Decorvet


PHILAFRICA FOODS is headquartered in South Africa where the organisation owns and operates maize mills, wheat mills, an oilseed-crushing, extraction, and refining plant, as well as animal feed manufacturing plants spanning all animal categories.

Philafrica Foods is owned by AFGRI Group Holdings, an investment holding company with interests in a number of agricultural-related companies providing products and services to ensure sustainable agriculture.


The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) defines food security as existing when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.


The CFS adopted this definition, but recognises that there are important capabilities that go beyond the availability of food that is nourishing, the resources with which to access this food and the way food is utilised. These include the stability of the food system in terms of prices, quality and safety, the agency of those in the food system, including consumers, to make informed choices, and even the physical ability to absorb the nutrients that are provided by food.


Philafrica Foods has a vision to unlock the potential of African agriculture. With millions of hectares of high potential agricultural lands – and only a small portion currently under cultivation – Africa holds the potential to feed the world. The harsh reality is that most African countries are net importers of processed food products. Philafrica Foods believes that the most effective way to transform African agriculture is to create market pull through large-scale food processing by supporting each stage of the value chain and care for all stakeholders.


The African Professional Magazine spoke to CEO at Philafrica Foods Roland Decorvet about his personal, professional, and entrepreneurial journey thus far. The word Phil means love in Greek hence the name Philafrica, meaning the love of Africa.


Tell us about your early life and your role today


With Swiss origins, I started from the bottom as a sales executive at Nestle in China until I became the Chairperson. Three years ago, I left the business and followed a personal passion at Mercy-Ships a christian NGO managing the largest civilian hospital ship in the world sailing around Africa and helping communities. Following another deeper calling, a year later, I got know the owners of AFGRI and the CEO Chris Venter, and we realized we had the same vision of transforming Africa by investing in food processing and Agriculture but in a different way. The world will feed itself in Africa where the land is.


What does your role mean to you?


The role means vertical integration straight back to the farm gate. It means working closely with smallholder farmers on crop variety improvement and technical assistance. It means staying current on global commodity markets to ensure leading procurement practices. It means implementing best-in-class manufacturing practices and adapting the business model based on how the local market operates. It is doing business differently, disruptively, and with a good dose of love. Love – in the way we treat our employees, in the way we treat our farmers, and in our long-term commitment to the continent of Africa.


What initiative would leave the greatest impact for you and for Africa as a whole?


I am proud to say that Philafrica Foods has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with NovosHorizontes (“New Horizons”), an integrated chicken producer located in northern Mozambique. This forms part of Philafrica Foods’ planned investment of between R1 billion and R1.5 billion over the next 18-24 months in Africa. With a focus on investing in food categories across Africa, and on locally-sourced raw materials, Philafrica is actively seeking investment opportunities on the continent, with NovosHorizontes being the first of many.


NovosHorizontes with a core vision of unlocking the potential – both in terms of labour and land – in Mozambique by supporting smallholder farmers in agribusiness. The joint venture with Philafrica Foods will allow the company to continue its expansion in that country. We saw in NovosHorizontes a trusted partner, a profitable business, and importantly, having the same values as us in terms of transforming the lives of smallholder farmers. Moreover, our expertise in rendering, feed mixing and poultry will drive substantial synergies as the company expands in Mozambique. Currently 60 to 70% of the poultry consumed in Mozambique is imported, and thus there is massive opportunity. We there see immense potential to replace imported products with local production and are pleased to have found a strong operating partner in Mozambique with decades of experience in the poultry value chain.


What would you say are the most critical resources for your successful leadership? How would people describe you as a Leader?


I do not need people who just love Africa, I want people who have a calling and love African people and their survival with regards to food security. Trust, delegation and empowering the people in my team are important for me. If you want your team members to be entrepreneurs, you must treat them like entrepreneurs.


What is the legacy that you would want to leave by the time you retire?


I would like to see many factories across Africa processing African raw materials while helping millions of people mostly small farmers, allowing them to be empowered.


How do you strike the balance of career, business and interpersonal skills?


I do not have much to prove in my role. I have spent over 20 years in the corporate space and have done it all. All I want now is to create, build a business in a different way – as much as making a profit and industrial growth is important, making a social impact and putting individual businesses and ordinary people’s lives is my calling.


How has the company done in terms of business growth objectives?


The business is doing well so far, we currently have a R5billion business and we looking at acquiring or setting up three to four meaningful business deals per year.

How do you maintain ethics, integrity and professionalism?


It is important to choose and recruit the right people to work with and businesses you partner with. Think long-term in whatever you do. Having a strong work ethic and philosophy that is published for all to see in the workplace is important.


How do you participate in mentorship, if you do?


I am a firm believer that we should employees that treat their work as they would if they were running their own businesses.


How does the company contribute to the community?


Philafrica Foods announced its acquisition of a majority stake in The Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company’s (DADTCO) cassava processing activities. DADTCO has pioneered an innovative mobile cassava processing technology that is having a major positive impact on Africa’s smallholder farmers. With existing operations in Mozambique and advanced projects in West Africa, Philafrica Foods is looking to leverage DADTCO’s technology and its management team’s extensive experience to scale cassava processing in sub-Saharan Africa (“SSA”). DADTCO’s vision to unleash the potential of cassava throughout Africa, the technical expertise of its management team, and innovative mobile processing technology, align perfectly with our vision and values at Philafrica Foods.


Cassava is a root crop grown in tropical climates – in Africa it is the second largest source of carbohydrates after maize. Currently eight of the top 10 producers globally are in SSA, with a total of 145 million MTs – 54% of global production – produced annually in Africa. There are many advantages to cassava, amongst these being that it needs less water to grow than maize and rice, making it an attractive crop for smallholder farmers and it can remain underground for more than two years after maturity, reducing the need for large storage facilities. Philafrica Foods will actively pursue close collaboration with donors to make the mobile cassava processing technology available to as many smallholder farmers in SSA as possible.


How is the company doing in terms of Transformation objectives?


If you are in the food business, it is imperative to have the right diversity in the teams and have people who understand the end consumers. Don’t be a politically correct business in your dealings; rather have a smart business that understands the people you serve.


How do you ensure the company is delivering quality customer service?

Service is key, if you don’t perform and deliver on your promise, people will go somewhere else. Food safety and food quality is a must, sophisticated laboratories that will ensure country and universal quality standards in the different markets you are in is vital.


What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night in terms of your role?


My issue is not having enough good and qualified people in our human capital at Philafrica Foods who love people and are willing to travel to the markets we want to venture into.


What have been the highs and lows in your working career?


The China experience where I moved (over 20 years) from being a sales consultant to being the Chairperson of Nestle there was a highlight – my experience at Mercy ships was remarkable. The lows would be when the people you trust turn around to stab you!


How does the organisation take part in developing the profession you belong to?


We have a demo farm with our partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, each of our ventures across Africa will have such demo-farms. We have an apprenticeship programme in our farming and training colleges where we have 60 learners in Mozambique and 100 learners in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.


What awards have you or the company won?


Philafrica Foods was only officially launched in April 2017. Whilst I was Chairperson at Nestle in China in 2013, I won the Business man of the Year Award. I also won the Man of Year Award at 2014 in Switzerland (Bilanz Magazine)


When you not at work, what do you get up to, including family life and where can people follow you online?


My wife and four girls aged between 9 and 13 years keep me so busy when I am not at work, I enjoy family life. I am too busy for social media, I prefer talking to people. Our work is at


Source: Mzukona Mantshontsho, The African Professional

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Food Across Africa

Philafrica Foods’ three-pronged strategy is set to capitalise on  African agricultural opportunity by reducing imports and increasing exports; enriching hundreds of thousands of local farmers in the process

THE ABILITY TO SUCCEED on a corporate level, and to succeed from an ethical perspective are usually mutually exclusive achievements, but Philafrica Foods (Pty) Ltd is aiming to buck the trend by combining the two across Africa.

In trying to undo many of the agricultural challenges that exist on the continent – sub-Saharan Africa specifically – the business is aiming to simultaneously capitalise on the abundant opportunities that exist across many countries’ fertile lands.

And while financial success will inevitably go hand in hand with the ultimate evolution of Philafrica Foods, the vision that kick-started the journey was – and still remains – much more wholesome.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Roland Decorvet recalls: “To understand the Company, you need to understand my background which derives from more than 20 years at Nestle, and from working all over the world in the food sector; especially in China over the past 15 years. When I left three years ago, I was on a board of a hospital ship NGO called Mercy Ships and me and my family left the comfortable expatriate life to live aboard it; sailing around Africa bringing free medical care to the continent.

“It was this mixture of corporate and socially-driven work which led to a vision to create a different kind of food company, that was profit-driven but with a very strong social agenda; not just a nice feel-good policy but an embedded vision of social responsibility and enrichment.”

Having grown up in the DRC, Decorvet knows only too well the shortfalls and opportunities that exist in tandem in Africa, and with the backing of Canadian company, AFGRI Group Holdings, Philafrica Foods was borne.

He continues: “They already had a large food division in South Africa made up of a dozen factories doing animal feeds, milling and oil crushing. We then split the business to form a multipurpose entity and have continued from that point onwards.

“Our South Africa portfolio is still made up of animal feeds for a wide range of animals, as well as wheat and maize milling for flour, and oil crushing. Meanwhile, in the rest of Africa, we carry out the same functions, as well as operating in poultry, and cassava processing.”

Three pillar strategy

Additional to the inherited factories, turnover and presence points, Philafrica Foods also took on 1,500 people as a result of its partnership with AFGRI and through its own initial recruitment drive. And this has proven to be just one of the benefits that have derived from its approach to continuous improvement.

The first strategy revolves around acquiring a majority of a Company needing capital to succeed, and this has been complemented by a series of 50-50 joint ventures. The third – high risk, high return – mode of growth has focused on Greenfield opportunities, but in each and every case, the key visions remain the same.

“Our growth strategy is based on three pillars,” begins Decorvet. “The first is in South Africa by working our way down the value chain and through acquiring more processing companies to make sure we have the biggest share of the value chain in the country.

“The next pillar revolves around replacing imported products coming into the continent. Even though Africa has some of the most fertile land in the world, it also has the majority of uncultivated land in the world because of the extent of imports. We need to grow more and process more local raw materials and have already begun by introducing a process plant to turn cassava into flour. It’s an apt replacement for the wheat flour currently imported, and cassava grows everywhere.”

The same applies to tomatoes in Zimbabwe which are primarily imported from China at present due to the lack of processing facilities in the country.

This leads into the third pillar which addresses the odd and convoluted chain that currently exists where crops may be farmed in Africa, but are then processed in Asia and Europe before being imported back. Philafrica Foods is striving to streamline the concept in order to keep the entire value chain localised so that the continent can capitalise on export opportunities itself.

Relationships with the right people

As a result of Africa’s agricultural potential, there aren’t any limits to Philafrica Foods’ prospects either, and countries including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Ivory Cost, Senegal, Kenya and Ethiopia have already been explored en route to the Company’s overall ambition to cover the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa.

Understandably though, such widespread ambition comes with its own challenges as Decorvet explains: “This continent is not just one Africa, but many Africas; and languages, regulations and trends are just some of the ongoing challenges we face in moving into new countries. Unless you’re a McDonald’s, which we would never want to be, then you have to tailor your approach in each case.”

Fortunately for Philafrica Foods, the business has already secured a plethora of investors and interested parties bought into its longer-term strategy in order to offset such challenges; ensuring that each migration is as seamless as possible.

“Rather than focusing on the country risk which might dissuade companies or investors from crossing a certain border, focus more on the partner risk and on forming relationships with the right people. As long as you have partnered with the right people, then you can negotiate the challenges in nations that would put off others.

“As a consequence we are first to the punch to work in countries that are traditionally unattractive to investors, safe in the knowledge that we are partnered with the right people to guide us responsibly into that particular market.

“We then succeed not because of a great country, or their great governments, but because of the people we work alongside.”

Transform millions of lives

A huge contributor to this goal has been the utilisation of and faith shown in local operators, farmers and employees who the Company has looked to promote across its processes.

Naturally, the aforementioned continental shortfalls emanate into areas of skills too though, and this is where Decorvet has once again been able to leverage previous contacts and knowledge bases in bringing expatriates in to help up-skill the local workforce.

“When we come into a venture, we look at the whole supply chain to make sure that every aspect of it can be done successfully on a local scale, and if not then we may need to look to expats to train these local people initially,” he affirms. “Education can be more theoretical in Africa so training is vital in giving these intelligent individuals the manual skills they need to keep operations progressing.”

Once again, the Company’s HR ethos bridges the gap between corporate strategy and social upliftment, making what other companies would call ‘corporate social responsibility’ an actual strand of Philafrica Foods’ core business model.

“We don’t believe in ‘charity’ per se, as our business model naturally enriches people as a by-product,” Decorvet continues. “Our ambition is to transform millions of lives across Africa through food processing, but we don’t just look at food processing to achieve that. It’s about helping the wider agricultural community at every stage of the value chain.”

A food company with a purpose

Decorvet himself has changed his corporate outlook somewhat over the course of the Philafrica Foods journey so far, in acknowledgement of this wider all-encompassing vision.

In previous years or previous ventures, he would look – sensibly so – to streamline a business’s supply chain as efficiently as possible to contain just a select few big and valuable suppliers or partners. However, in order to stay true to Philafrica Foods’ promise, attentions have actually turned towards forming as many relationships as possible this time around.

“It’s actually a KPI of ours now where the more suppliers we have, the better. We don’t want just a select few big farmers supplying our processing plants. We want to procure the services of lots of smaller ones. And that’s not charity; it’s social development.”

Over the next five years, the Company will look to spread its philosophy to at least a dozen African countries with more than 20 factories dotted across the sub-Saharan region; having a consequential impact on hundreds of thousands of farmers.

“By then we would have started exporting our products to Europe and America too, to consumers who are more aware of where the products have come from and more keen to import from Africa as a result,” Decorvet concludes. “Transparency and responsibility need to be shown in order to achieve this kind of demand for supply, but we can facilitate this by being a food company with a purpose.

“We’re both a big corporation and an NGO, thriving as a business with a strong socially-driven agenda, and while this comes with more risks in terms of the countries we’re looking to enrich, we are determined to remain responsible in partnering with the whole of Africa.”

Source: Matthew Staff, Africa Outlook Magazine

Philafrica Foods, one of the largest food processing companies in South Africa, has announced its acquisition of a majority stake in The Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company’s (DADTCO) cassava processing activities. DADTCO has pioneered innovative mobile cassava processing technology that is having a major positive impact on Africa’s smallholder farmers.

With existing operations in Mozambique and advanced projects in West Africa, Philafrica Foods is looking to leverage DADTCO’s technology and its management team’s extensive experience to scale cassava processing in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

“Philafrica’s vision is to transform the lives of millions of African smallholder farmers by creating market demand by means of large-scale food processing. DADTCO’s vision to unleash the potential of cassava throughout Africa, the technical expertise of its management team and innovative mobile processing technology, align perfectly with our vision and values,” said Roland Decorvet, CEO of Philafrica Foods.

Cassava is a root crop grown in tropical climates. In Africa it is the second largest source of carbohydrates after maize. “Currently eight of the top 10 producers globally are in SSA, with a total of 145 million MTs – 54% of global production – produced annually in Africa.”

Convenient cassava

One of the many advantages of cassava is that it needs less water than maize and rice, making it an attractive crop for smallholder farmers. Another is that it can remain underground for more than two years after maturity, reducing the need for large storage facilities.

DADTCO developed an entirely new product called Cassava Starch Flour®, which is a perfect substitute for wheat flour as well as corn-starch in the food processing, baking and beverage industries that are poised to grow as the African middle class increases. It also offers a non-gluten and grain-free alternative to traditional products usually containing wheat, thus catering to an increasingly health-conscious population.

“We see massive opportunity in cassava as currently less than 5% of total production in Africa is industrially processed at scale,” said Decorvet.

While the financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, Decorvet said that the company will actively pursue close collaboration with donors to make mobile cassava processing technology available to as many smallholder farmers in SSA as possible.

Philafrica Foods is supported by the AFGRI Group, an investment holding company focused on food and agriculture with an underlying ethos as an enabler of food security in line with the Philafrica vision.

Source: AgriOrbit, 30 October 2017

Newly formed food and feed processing company Philafrica sets out plans for expansion across Southern Africa, where it plans to invest $50-100m over the next two years, with the feed sector earmarked as a focus for growth.

In an exclusive interview with this publication, Philafrica CEO Roland Decovret said: “Animal feed is by far the biggest potential food category and the most underdeveloped in the African sub-continent. The challenge is nding the raw material on a consistent basis.”

South Africa headquartered Philafrica was established as a subsidiary of agricultural investment holding company Afgri Group in April this year. A R5bn (US$250m) business, Philafrica already operates seven feed factories, four grain mills and an oil seed crushing and extraction plant in the continent.

Decovret said the reason for establishing a separate entity was to focus on food and feed processing across Africa. “Afgri’s key focus is grain management, whereas Philafrica’s is unlocking the potential of African agriculture to become a net food exporter,” he explained.

“We like to believe that we are di erent because we believe in the future of Africa – not just South Africa. We are committed to developing, processing and adding value to locally grown crops, on building up supply from smallholders and on import replacement,” he said.

Strategic deals with local operators and development of green eld sites both form part of the company’s planned route to expansion. Philafrica has already closed two deals – in Mozambique and Zimbabwe – and said it was eyeing further opportunities in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.

Done deals

Last week, Philafrica announced that it had entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Novos Horizontes, a vertically integrated poultry producer in Mozambique. Decovret said that with imports accounting for 60-70% of all poultry consumed in Mozambique, this move underpinned Philafrica’s focus on import replacement and on working with smallholder farmers to develop local availability of raw materials.

Decovret declined to disclose the name of the partner company, but said that the second deal would capitalise on the opportunity for replacing wheat imports with locally grown cassava and would involve building processing facilities in two West African countries. Whilst much of the cassava processed would be destined for human consumption as a wheat our replacer, he said there could be potential feed applications.

“Cassava is used in animal feed in Brazil but not yet in Africa, despite being the continent’s biggest crop. This is one of many opportunities in Africa to process raw materials.”

He added: “It is not an issue for us to build processing facilities; the challenge is securing enough supply to go through the plant,” an issue he said was true for any raw material – not just cassava.

This, he said, was the biggest barrier to the development of Africa’s feed industry, and one of the reasons why Philafrica is pursuing an investment strategy aimed at developing value-added products and synergies between the di erent areas of its business, rather than animal feed products per se.

“We wouldn’t enter into an animal feed investment in isolation; it would have to be linked to another part of the business, for example oil seed crushing. We wouldn’t go into milling for the sake of it as there is already a lot of capacity in Africa – it would need to be for a value added product. There may then be an opportunity to utilize the by-products, whether press cake from apples or nut shells from cashews – as an animal feed ingredient.”

The exception to this rule of thumb could be Ethopia, where Philafrica is looking at potential green eld investments.

“We have identi ed Ethiopia as a key market for feed. The sheer size of the cattle population (55 million) and the number of feedlots coupled with a very poorly developed feed industry make Ethopia very attractive for potential investment,” said Decovret.

Source:, Lynda Searby, 26 October 2017

Philafrica Foods, deel van die Afgri-groep, het ’n vennootskap met ’n Mosambiekse hoenderprodusent gesluit om die potensiaal in die bedryf te ontgin.

Sowat 60% tot 70% van die hoendervleis wat in Mosambiek geëet word, word ingevoer en daar is dus groot geleenthede, sê mnr. Roland Decorvet, uitvoerende hoof van Philafrica.

Die maatskappy het in ’n verklaring bekend gemaak dat hy ’n gesamentlike onderneming, op ’n 50-50-grondslag, met Novos Horizontes aangegaan het. Dié Noord-Mosambiekse onderneming is ’n geïntegreerde hoenderprodusent wat in 2005 gestig is met die kernvisie om potensiaal rakende grond en arbeid in die land te ontsluit deur kleinboere te ondersteun. Die gesamentlike onderneming sal Novos Horizontes, wat “nuwe horisonne” beteken, in staat stel om sy uitbreiding in die land voort te sit.

“Ons beskou Novos Horizontes as ’n betroubare vennoot, ’n winsgewende onderneming, en, die belangrikste, ons het dieselfde waardes rakende die transformasie van kleinboere se lewe,” sê Decorvet.

Mnr. Andrew Cunningham, uitvoerende voorsitter van Novos Horizontes, wat die onderneming in 2005 begin het, sê die onderneming wil die toonaangewende pluimveeprodusent in die land wees en na ander waardekettings uitbrei waar voedselverwerking en die bou van handelsmerkte produksie deur kleinboere kan bevorder. Die onderneming gebruik plaaslike boere om hoenders op hul eie plase groot te maak.

Novos Horizontes besit ook aandele in Mozambique Fresh Eggs, ’n eier-produsent in Nampula, en het Frango King, nog ’n hoenderprodusent in die land, onlangs verkry.

Decorvet het gesê tot dusver is nog geen uitbrekings van voëlgriep in Mosambiek aangemeld nie, maar die maatskappy ontwikkel daadwerklik gebeurlikheids- en risikobestuursplanne.

Philafrica Foods is een van die grootste voedselverwerkingsmaatskappye in Suid-Afrika. Die maatskappy besit en bedryf 12 aanlegte. Die gesamentlike onderneming met Novos Horizontes is deel van sy beoogde belegging van tussen R1 miljard en R1,5 miljard in Afrika in die volgende 18 tot 24 maande.

Source:, Carien Kruger, 19 October 2017