Cracking into mainstream market as an egg producer
Working as a packer and then being promoted to manager at egg producer Nulaid hatched Seo Mthethwa’s entrepreneurial vision and today the 57-year-old is the owner of Nu Dawn Eggs.
Initially the business was part of the Nulaid division of Pioneer Foods but in 2001 it was made available for sale to employees of Pioneer. Mthethwa and four colleagues snapped up the offer.
They renamed their business uKhahlamba Poultry Farm and during their first years of operation, they supplied table eggs solely to Pioneer Foods. This changed in 2008 when they decided to sell their eggs directly to the market, under the brand name of Nu Dawn.
The period heralded other changes, including the withdrawal of a number of shareholders. This left Mthethwa the majority shareholder, with Philani Dlamini holding the remaining shares. Thus, the company became 100 percent black owned.
Based in Winterton in KwaZulu-Natal, the company has enjoyed good market penetration in its home province as well as the Eastern Cape. It supplies eggs to big supermarkets such as Spar, OK Foods, Boxer, Cambridge Foods and Jwayelani Supermarkets.
Mthethwa, who is president of the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute, said that he had always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur and deciding to market their own eggs gave him the momentum to crack on. Today, 146 local employment opportunities have been created and the company has satellite branches in Westmead, Pinetown and Kokstad.
“We have a poultry count of 400 000 and 360 000 eggs are laid daily. We buy 18-week old pullets and keep them for 54 weeks in egg production before selling them in bulk at 72 weeks. Each hen produces around 293 eggs during its 54 weeks at the farm,” he said.
Mthethwa said his success is largely due to the mentorship he received from other farmers. Apart from poultry, Mthethwa raises sheep for meat production.
He encourages young people to study agriculture because there are many opportunities in the sector.
-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.