Ice, ice baby

In the fight to cool down, SA’s heat waves re­sulted in record ice sales, as well as high de­mand for fans and air con­di­tion­ers

CityPress - - Busi­ness - FANIE VAN ROOYEN busi­ness@city­press.co.za

All that many South Africans wanted to do in De­cem­ber was lie in front of a fan and drink ev­ery­thing with ice. The heat waves and drought, which sent tem­per­a­tures sky­rock­et­ing to record highs in the sum­mer, es­pe­cially in the north­ern parts of the coun­try, cre­ated an un­prece­dented de­mand for air con­di­tion­ers, fans, car­bon­ated drinks and bot­tled wa­ter.

Sev­eral whole­salers and re­tail­ers, such as Makro, Game and Dion Wired, saw record sales over the fes­tive sea­son of fans and air con­di­tion­ers.

Makro and Dion Wired say they had to or­der far more fans and air con­di­tion­ers than usual to re­stock their shelves.

“We had record sales of pre­mium air con­di­tion­ers and the num­ber of bulk or­ders we re­ceived, both on­line and in stores, was re­mark­able,” said Caro­line Brick­ell, trad­ing stock man­ager at Dion Wired.

Ler­ato Ram­abaya, brand man­ager for Coca-Cola’s bot­tled wa­ter divi­sion, which in­cludes Val­prè and Bon­aqua, con­firmed that the brands ex­pe­ri­enced higher sales in com­par­i­son with pre­vi­ous sum­mers.

Ice mak­ers had to run around to pro­vide enough frozen re­lief to stores’ fridges.

“It was by far the best sea­son we have ever had, but it was also one of the most chal­leng­ing. The hot­ter it is, the higher the de­mand for ice, but the harder it be­comes for us to make ice,” said Ge­orge Peters, CEO of Ice4Africa, which sup­plies ice packs coun­try­wide to re­tail­ers such as Pick n Pay, Check­ers and Spar.

“If the sur­round­ing tem­per­a­ture is so high, it takes dou­ble the amount of time for the ice to freeze. Our ma­chines could on aver­age only work at 40% of their op­ti­mal ca­pac­ity,” said Peters.

He said the ther­mome­ters hit 43°C at Ice4Africa’s fac­tory in Florida, Jo­han­nes­burg.

“By Septem­ber, we had 1 000 tons of stored ice packs, which we built up over the win­ter. We knew we could pro­duce up to 40 tons of ice per day and thought we were safe. We re­alised in Novem­ber, how­ever, that we were in trou­ble.”

Ad­di­tional ice ma­chines were bought, ac­cord­ing to Peters, but even that was not enough.

“It was so warm that we could only pro­duce about 20 to 25 tons of ice per day, and most days we were lucky to reach 60% of nor­mal pro­duc­tion.”

Peters said ice needed to be stored for three to five days be­fore it was sold be­cause it got a beau­ti­ful blue sheen and then also took longer to melt.

“Af­ter Christ­mas, it was the first time in 25 years that we had to pack fresh ice on to trucks just as it came out of the ma­chines.”

He has de­cided to build an ex­tra stor­age fa­cil­ity, which can house 500 tons of ice, in prepa­ra­tion for next year. “It is a big in­vest­ment, but we can’t keep up in such heat. I be­lieve it will ben­e­fit us.”

Candice Tootell, man­ager at WD Ice, said they also usu­ally stored enough stock over the win­ter to last un­til af­ter Christ­mas and even New Year’s Eve.

“Our stor­age was al­ready empty by De­cem­ber 10. In Novem­ber, our sales were 22% higher than last year and in De­cem­ber they were 25% higher.”

She said De­cem­ber 16 was their busiest day. They pro­duced 41 tons and still took or­ders at 7pm.

WD Ice drove an ex­tra 250 tons of ice from Dur­ban and Pre­to­ria to their fac­tory in Jo­han­nes­burg over the fes­tive sea­son, but even this was not enough.

“We re­ceived about 57 tons of or­ders ev­ery day, from the first day of the new year un­til the rain started.”

She said they re­ceived calls from ev­ery prov­ince, and even Swazi­land and Mozam­bique.

“We had to ap­ply ra­tioning and limit our de­liv­er­ies to 17 tons per client. Some clients even of­fered to come and help make the ice. There was just not enough!”

PHOTO: ALET PRE­TO­RIUS

SOLID GOLD Ice4Africa in

Florida, Joburg, had record or­ders in De­cem­ber

as tem­per­a­tures

soared

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