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highly successful infrastructure. Fresh fruit and vegetables are purchased from the local markets by a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable buyers working in conjunction with the franchisees - who are encouraged to attend the markets with them. Over the 14 years since its inception, FVC has grown to become the largest buyer of fresh market produce in South Africa, and this delivers significant economies of scale, helping to keep costs down. Meanwhile, its buyers have also developed close working relationships with the farming community. " Many farmers would rather do business with us because of the way we do business and the way we treat them." A network of six distribution centres operates around the country and each one of these also runs a kitchen where the sandwiches are made fresh every day, using the best fresh produce. One of the big risks in the fresh food industry, of course, is the loss of profit due to wastage. " And this is something that differentiates us from our competitors. For one thing, our buyers are very experienced and can see exactly where a product is in its lifecycle, so they do not purchase produce that is over- ripe and will go off quickly. The other thing is, we do pay great attention to how we display the produce," he says, " and this can be down to the small details such as the amount of sunlight a product receives. In South Africa, temperature is critical, so we have special sprinklers built into our stores that cool the food effectively and efficiently. should ultimately be franchising to 100 to 200 petrol stations across South Africa, effectively doubling the company's current retail presence. The vision, though, does not end there. Traditionally, people buy ' chips, cokes and smokes' at a petrol station. FVC believes that if it can sell fresh and enticing food at only marginally higher costs than the big supermarkets, which may be a considerable distance away, then customers will begin buying more when they stop to top up on fuel. " I believe the c- store sector could really change the face of retail shopping," Liebenberg says. " It could become so successful that the next stage will be to double the size of the store so that it becomes the local supermarket, rather than a convenience store." FVC's business is built around a well established and Fruit and Veg City September / October 09 www. bus- ex. com 105 Pacmar's combination of valued relationships, experience and technical expertise enables it to offer a specialised contract packaging service of quality to the beverage industry. With its modern HACCP- approved facilities and Good Manufacturing Practices credibility, it is able to develop and produce products to suit any need in various shapes and sizes, ranging from TetraPak 200ml to 1L, to Elopak 500ml to 2L. Pacmar