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Cape Fruit Processors F our years after qualifying as an accountant, Max Thalwitzer heads Cape Fruit Processors' principal production unit at Malelane in the Limpopo Valley, near the place where his grandfather, Mannetjie, first started to farm citrus fruit in the 1960s. In 2000 Max's father Vonnie moved south to start a deciduous fruit business- apples and pears, basically- in the Cape area, with processing facilities at Paarl in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga on the other side of the country, about 30 miles inland from Durban. Mpumalanga was home to Riverside Processors, which in 2000 combined with the other Thalwitzer family group entities and some farming interests belonging to Johann Rupert, the wealthy South African owner of the Swiss-based Richemont Group. The present- day Cape Fruit Processors is divided equally between the Rupert and Thalwitzer families, explains Max. South Africa is not the biggest producer and exporter in the world, but it is one of the most stable, so the large global juice, beverage and canning companies like to have strategic relations with suppliers who can continue to provide them in the event of a poor lemon season in Argentina or a hurricane in Florida. And Cape Fruit Processors has a unique spread of facilities throughout the country as well as a comprehensive product range. The greatest emphasis is on citrus and apples, but guava, litchi, pineapple, mango, mandarin oranges and paw- paw are all in the portfolio. Around 60 percent of production is exported, and Cape Fruit Processors supplies significant quantities of product to Japan. About 80 percent of exports from the big citrus plant at Malelane are shipped to that market. " Japan is a very important market for us," says Thalwitzer. " It was a difficult market to get into because quality has to be perfect." Japan is known as the world June 09 www. bus- ex. com 51 Pulp facts Cape Fruit Processors has had unique success in one of the world's trickiest markets, proving to John O'Hanlon that it's no " me too" player in the South African juice and pulp industry