In 1983, Flip Nel, turned a dream into reality by establishing a smallholding on a piece of uncultivated land near the banks of the Limpopo River. With determination and hard work, this entrepreneur produced a diverse range of quality fresh produce to meet the growing consumer markets. The first pack-house relocated from the smallholding to the nearest town, Messina (now Musina) as the packing volumes increased and a larger premises was required.
With a small mango orchard on the smallholding, the idea of manufacturing dried mango first started in 1990. M-Pak could grow its number of product lines and it also provided surrounding mango producers with an opportunity for another source of income.
Establishing markets for dried mangoes started slowly. However, it rapidly grew over the years resulting from an increase in the worldwide demand for dried mango and the convenience of buying a seasonal product all-year round. As the demand grew, the availability of fresh mangoes did not meet the rapid market growth rate. M-Pak had to find a means to meet this demand, service additional international clients and keep up with consumer trends. After all the skills learned and client relationships built, to stagnate was not an option.
This eventually led to obtaining a drying facility in another large mango producing area, Hoedspruit, where fresh mangoes were sourced from out-growers that complied with food safety and quality specifications.
However, procuring enough fresh mangoes still remained a big challenge. We started to look above the South African borders to expand. The opportunity to become involved with mango drying in West Africa came in 2011. In the West African countries of Burkina Faso and Mali, where there is an abundance of mango fruit, a World Bank project for the advancement of mango processing invited M-Pak to investigate the viability of cooperating with existing local mango drying factories. Once again, Flip Nel and his wife, Jeanie, took on the chance to set up world-class mango drying facilities from scratch. M-Pak regarded this as a challenge and became involved with several mango drying factories on the basis of production and marketing agreements. This project was launched 2012.
In order to establish a firmer presence in West Africa, M-Pak went into a joint venture with a local fresh mango exporting company in Burkina Faso, Fruiteq, as well as another South African company, Westfalia Fruit. TIMINI SARL, the Burkina Faso based company established as a result of the joint venture, started its own mango drying factory early 2014. Timini constructed a new factory that began manufacturing in May 2017. All the West-African drying facilities supplying product to Timini are currently HACCP certified with the main Timini facility bearing BRC accreditation.
Presently, M-Pak remains a family-run business led by Flip and Jeanie Nel as well as their three children and their spouses. The company continues to grow to meet the worldwide demand for dried mango, to meet client specifications, complying to recognised food safety and quality standards, and introducing innovative new products. Even in doing so, M-Pak is committed to stay in balance with the environment and the consumer.