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High-tech gets to the root of nutrition

The humble carrot could be the superfood of the 21st century, if a pioneering farmer has his way, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Vito Rugani, co-founder of Greenway Farm and the Rugani carrot and juice brand, with the carrots that bear his name (Pic: ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK)

The rural suburb of Tarlton, north east of Johannesburg, is best known for the International Raceway that is the region’s home of drag racing. It is a little startling, then, to find that the race track is near-neighbour to the largest carrot farm in Africa. Not only that, but that the farm is at the heart of a revolution that combines breakthroughs in both nutrition and the technology of juice extraction.

Greenway Farms produces 40% of South Africa’s carrots, harvesting 300 tons per day, and shipping them across the country under the brand name Rugani.

It is even more astonishing, then, to discover that the farm’s co-founder, Vito Rugani, was sleeping on the floor of a flat in Hillbrow less than three decades ago. He came from a farming family, did a BSc at university, and then worked on a family farm for about seven years. But when he went out on his own in 1991, and pursued a different lifestyle, his family disowned him.

He would later marry Nomakeme Mxatule, who moved from the mountains of Transkei to find work in Johannesburg. Today they have eight children, of whom six work for Greenway Farm, in roles ranging from sales to information technology.

At the time, however, he was down and out. He and a friend, Vincent Sequeira, decided to go into partnership to buy a small plot of land far outside Johannesburg, with a little help from friends who made small investments. Over the next decade, they slowly evolved from a 20 hectare market garden into a highly specialised commercial carrot production unit.

But it would take another ten years for them to make the breakthrough that would lay the foundation for a technology revolution in both carrot juice specifically and nutrition more broadly.

“We did a lot of traveling and we went to see how other countries did production, and then came home and applied that same knowledge,” Rugani says. “So  we’ve always had an institutional memory of being technologically advanced. It’s easy to just do what everybody else is doing. But to get that quantum leap forward is not so easy and it requires a lot of exposure, reading, investigation and making the right choices, and is usually associated with a considerable amount of risk.

“By 2011 we realised that we were sitting with a huge amount of second grade by-products that couldn’t be sold. A quarter of any carrot crop is not acceptable aesthetically to sell on the first grade market. That’s a problem with any form of food, but carrots in particular, because they break. So you’re sitting with carrots that are of the highest quality, but they’re not visually appealing. And we had to do something with it. The decision was made to go into juice.”

The rest is history, one might say. A few weeks after hosting us at his farm, Rugani has made the trek into Randburg to meet at MSquared, a bakery and restaurant in the Carreira Centre in Ferndale. The location is highly significant: the Centre is home to the Randburg Fruit & Veg Market, the first outlet in South Africa to stock Rugani vegetable juices.

Recently, the carrot juice was joined in an expanded range by beetroot and pineapple juice, as well as juices infused with ginger and turmeric.

But between the farm and the store lay a massive learning curve.

“It’s easy enough to go into juice and go and buy some secondhand equipment, and do juice the way European or American companies were doing it,” says Rugani. “But ten years ago we wanted to do it in a way nobody was doing it. We wanted to get 10 years ahead of the curve, because that had been our philosophy since the very beginning, and that’s how we grew our farm from 20 hectares to 2,500  hectares in 10 years. So we started investigating what’s new in the carrot juice world. I started on the internet, searching documents, reading scientific publications that were cutting edge, papers by people who had seen things that nobody else had seen.”

Visit the next page to read about how the nutritional benefits of most fruit juices are almost non-existent

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Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC

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International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

Region2018
Shipments
2018 Market
Share
2023
Shipments*
2023 Market
Share*
2018-2023
CAGR*
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%
Total175.8100.0%332.9100.0%13.6%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s

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Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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