What a year!

No one would have been able to predict the dramatic changes in circumstances that resulted in country-wide hard lockdown. Suddenly we were all hustling to secure supply chains, restart production lines, recover margins, revise budgets, save employment, keep our businesses viable - all whilst doing this over online meeting platforms.

Amongst this uncertainty, the Food Industry was initially shaken but has responded very well, and once the alcohol manufacture ban was lifted, we seem to be back on track as the year comes to an end. An SME loan company reported that the 1st 6 months loans were for cash flow, whilst the last two months have been for new equipment and infrastructure - very positive.

Thank you all for adhering to the lockdown regulations and assisting to curb the spread of COVID-19.

We would like to thank Anza Bester (Council member), for organising the custodian webinar and Lisa Ronquest-Ross (Cape branch Chair) for moderating. SAAFoST recognises the significant contribution the Custodians make to the organisation in terms of inputs, contributions and involvement, and the webinar was our way of saying, Thank You! Watch webinar the recording here

SAAFoST started the year without Owen Frisby, our Executive Director of 17 years, who retired at the end of December for well-earned relaxation. Council shared the ED responsibilities, adding more responsibility to Irene Burke and Tsetse Baloyi, together with Council. SAAFoST is currently in the process of securing the services of a new CEO. The CEO position advert, which closed 15 November, has attracted nine applications. Updates on this in the New Year.

In response to lockdown regulations, SAAFoST employees stepped up and organised over 23 webinars, each attracting upwards of 120-150 participants, covering many varied topics of interest to all the members. The outcome has increased awareness and interest in SAAFoST and resulted in 247 new members. Thanks to Irene Burke and the team's efforts. Irene has been ably helped in this by Tsetse all of the notices ably moderated by Lucia Anelich, Rosie Maguire, Lisa Ronquest-Ross and Anza Bester, together with all the excellent presenters - Thanks to you all for the hard work.

Everybody on Council has gone above and beyond, unselfishly contributing their time, resources and involvement that deserves our appreciation. We thank you.

Some of the projects

  • Task team looking at the Constitution to ensure alignment with legislative developments and good governance practices
  • Collaboration with IFT, IFST on food safety initiatives internationally
  • Establishment of interest groups to increase membership engagement and involvement in SAAFoST
  • Increasing student involvement from 1st year to Post Grads - special thanks to Tsetse and Kobus Brink for presenting an exciting Career Roadshow
  • Congress 2021.
FST magazine successfully transitioned from print to digital, under the competence and enthusiasm of Tricia Fitchet. Well done Tricia. Special mention of gratitude and thanks to the Custodians who donated an additional R2 000 to support the magazine.

The SAAFoST Foundation received a R400 000 donation from SAAFoST whilst the bursary sponsorship has been well supported, even in these trying times - a huge thank you to all the sponsoring companies from David Watson, Chair. The Foundation currently sponsors 24 students through their three years of studies, and also administers the candidates chosen by the tertiary establishments for the Aubrey Parsons, Pieter van Twisk and Koeppen memorial awards.

Congress 2021 will be a virtual event to be held over three days from Sept 23 - 27.

The Committee is ably headed by Madelein Jansen, KZN chair, under the title " Paradigm Shifts - Food in the 21st Century". Busy selecting a virtual platform, more notices to follow, please check out SAAFoST's social media pages and website for updates.

I would like to end with activities we have contributed to:

SAAFoST donated R400 000 to the Foundation.

We sponsored six people to attend the IFT virtual conference, with Lauren White attending the Emerging Leaders conference.

Hosted Justice Malala for our end-of-year Custodian Webinar.

In closing, I am cautiously optimistic about the future politically and economically, but abundantly optimistic about our organisation's future with the calibre and commitment of our members.

Wishing all a very happy, safe holiday season - a well-deserved break and looking forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

Yours sincerely

James McLean
(SAAFoST President)