A Walmart store in California, US. Walmart was impressed with the quality and taste of the pears from Rhodes Food Group. Picture: ISTOCK
A Walmart store in California, US. Walmart was impressed with the quality and taste of the pears from Rhodes Food Group. Picture: ISTOCK

Rhodes Food Group’s share price rose as much as 7% on Tuesday after the company announced that it will supply US Walmart stores with canned pear halves and slices.

The stock has plummeted almost 21% in the last month and just more than 19% in the year to date as SA consumers cut back on spending amid a weakening economy.

The share closed 5.9% higher at R13.39 on Tuesday, giving the company a market capitalisation of R3.5bn.

Rhodes, which listed on the JSE in 2014, is a producer of canned foods, baby foods, fruit juice and baked beans. Its brands include Pakco and the Bull Brand canned meats. It has 15 manufacturing facilities across SA and a fruit processing facility in Eswatini.

Rhodes exports products to countries such as the US.

“With SA having some of the world’s best canning fruit varieties, Walmart was impressed with the quality and taste of the pears from Rhodes Food Group,” Massmart, Walmart’s subsidiary, said.

Massmart did not disclose the value of the deal, and Massmart spokesperson Refilwe Boikanyo said this was a “starting order”, without elaborating.

Rhodes becomes the second SA company to supply products to Walmart as part of the US group’s export programme. This is part of Massmart’s supplier development programme, which was extended to include helping local suppliers to access Walmart’s global markets.

The first SA supplier to win a supplier deal with Massmart was Glenart, which makes confetti-popping Christmas crackers. The company offers five months’ seasonal work to 500 staff from poor communities near Shaka’s Head, KwaZulu-Natal.

Commenting on the deal, CEO Mitchel Slape, who assumed his role at Massmart in September, said this “new evolution of the programme leverages Massmart’s relationship with Walmart and its global scale to find opportunities for local suppliers, both big and small, to export to Walmart’s retail markets around the world”.

Rhodes was shortlisted alongside brands such as I&J’s abalone and seafood; Vinimark’s wines, which include brands such as Fat Bastard; Distell wines; Green Farm’s macadamia nuts; and AVI’s Freshpak rooibos.

childk@businesslive.co.za

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