LAUNCH OF EXTENSION TO HEXKOEL COLD STORAGE FACILITY IN THE HEX RIVER VALLEY
The New extension at Hexkoel Cold storage facility in the Hex River Valley was officially opened by Dr Ivan Meyer, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture. Minister Meyer cut the ribbon at an evening function to inaugurate the new addition to this key facility on 26 February 2022. The event was attended by table grape producers in the Hex River valley who use this facility, as well as stake holders from the Table grape industry.
Hexkoel (Pty) Ltd at Orchard in the Hex River Valley is a precooling, storage and dispatch facility for table grapes produced in the Hex River Valley and surrounding table grape production regions. This massive facility was originally established by table grape growers in the region as a co-operative in the early 1980’s and has grown considerably over time. Hexkoel (Pty) Ltd has approximately 170 shareholders and today it is one of the largest facilities of its kind internationally.
The new expansion
The launch celebrates the completion of the most recent expansion to Hexkoel. This includes two additional chambers, Chambers 15 and 16, with a combined storage capacity of 4 100 pallets, a service passage between existing and new rooms and an air lock loading out area with four truck loading bays. The total new area constructed is ±10,500 m². The main ammonia plant room was also upgraded to accommodate the new extensions. The project’s budget has been approximately R95 million.
Prior to the new expansion, the facility had a cold storage capacity of 13 500 pallets and 8 truck loading bays. The entire facility consisted of 4.2 hectares under roof and 2.7 hectares under cooling. The additional 4 100 pallet capacity of the new facility will increase the storage capacity to 17 600 pallets and the additional loading bays will increase the total to 12 loading bays.
Hexkoel currently handles approximately 18 million (4.5kg equivalent) cartons of table grapes annually, servicing 250 pack houses during the four to five-month harvest period from December to April. The additional cold storage space will be of significant benefit to the table grape industry, considering the current global shipping logistical challenges and the various challenges facing exporters in the Port of Cape Town and other South African ports.
In response to the South African energy crisis, during the past five years Hexkoel has invested approximately R20 million in generator capacity. When the Eskom power supply fails, Hexkoel runs the entire facility at 4.1 Megawatt, maintaining the temperature levels without interrupting the cooling service.
Providing a secondary service to the citrus Industry
Although Hexkoel is primarily a table grape storage facility, due to the challenges to shipping and the rapid expansion of the citrus industry, Hexkoel has increasingly become a valuable resource to the citrus industry. By late autumn, Hexkoel has usually dispatched the last grapes by the start of the citrus season and in 2021, Hexkoel provided cold storage for 23 000 pallets of citrus. The facility’s location on the N1 highway 90 minutes from the Port of Cape Town also makes it an attractive hub for the citrus industry.