Malcolm Green – from recycling to producing wine
01 January 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome back onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. It’s off to Paarl we go now, to a farm called Ruitersvlei and it’s a great pleasure to welcome onto the podcast Malcolm Green. Malcolm welcome, nice to touch base and good to have you on.
Malcolm Green: Thank you very much and good morning to your listeners.
BB: Malcolm, I wanted to touch base with you today. You are working in the wine industry, you guys are doing some amazing things, and I wanted to find out a little bit about you, as a producer and your journey into wine. Let’s kick things off right there. Where did things start for you? Where did you interest in wine begin?
How did you get into wine?
MG: My name is Malcolm Green. I’m born in Natal, KZN, and I started business at the age of 17, so I’m in business now for the last 36 years. My business started with recycling. I started as a recycler, and recycling various different types of materials, plastic, cardboard, bottles, etcetera. Then from there, we moved into specialising washing and the selling of empty bottles, and recycling broken glass.
Twenty-one years ago, I moved from there and came to the Western Cape. The company then grew and we went national. From there we decided to focus on getting involved in bottling wines, and it was my son’s initiative. This is what brought us today, to where we are, bottling and having our own wine brands.
BB: It’s quite a fascinating story and it’s interesting, the journey that you’ve taken. It’s obviously, come from a business perspective. You must have learnt a lot about the industry. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face, within the wine industry?
Finding market share in a packed industry
MG: The wine industry is not an easy industry. Firstly, it’s a 360-year-old heritage industry of South Africa, and because it falls under agriculture, it’s an industry that one needs to nurture and grow. The wine industry, firstly, we have over 500 different producers in South Africa, and we have many wine farms. South Africa is currently producing over 1.1 million litres of wine, of which 60% we export. The challenge in the wine industry is not only to have your own brand but also to find market share. This is one of our major challenges.
BB: Malcolm, you also work closely with your son. You mentioned the recycling business and how you got into it. That must be rewarding, being able to work with family but that also comes with its very, own unique challenges, doesn’t it?
MG: Yes, definitely. I’m very blessed and actually fortunate to have been working with Ricardo for the last 15 years. Ricardo joined me when he left university and he did a B.Com. From university him and I built a partnership. We started working together, starting from the recycling industry.
The wine industry is actually, one of Ricardo’s initiatives because he’d seen that not only were we selling empty bottles; and he decided look, why don’t we add value to our business and put a product in the bottle. Then from there, develop and grow into selling wine.
This is how we got into the wine industry. Yes, it’s not easy working with your son but definitely, it is rewarding, and I think many more South Africans should look at working with family. I am very blessed from that point of view.
Never saw this coming in my wildest dreams
BB: Malcolm, coming from or being, originally from KZN. That’s not a wine stronghold by any stretch of imagination. I know there are one or two producers pottering around in KZN, and growing vines. If I told you, when you started your entrepreneurial journey that you would be living in the area that you do now, and producing wine. What would you have told me back then?
MG: No, never in my wildest dreams. I never, ever thought I would be where I am today, in the wine industry, and having my own brand and my own labels. Definitely yes, if you had told me that many years ago, I would have said to you, “No, not at all.”
Definitely today, when one looks at it, and you look back the move into the wine industry firstly, is a very good move. Not only do we need it in South Africa as, number one, a job creator. But also the wines and looking at South African wines, when one wants to export. I think there’s great potential and there’s a massive opportunity for growth, within the wine industry.
The world is actually looking at South African wines, at the present moment. But what’s more important, in the wine industry, is that the Rand/Dollar exchange today is favourable, and it works for exporters. South Africans should take more advantage now of exporting wine around the world.
This is what we definitely need. Not only to nurture the industry, the agricultural industry but also to sustain it, and create more employment. So yes, definitely many years ago I would have said, no, I don’t think I’d be in it but I think I am very fortunate to be in it today.
BB: You and Ricardo have built a thriving business. Where do you see it going in the next decade?
What is on the horizon?
MG: Well look, we are very positive and we’re very passionate about LaRicMal. The company is called LaRicMal. We have two brands. The one brand is called LaRicMal Supreme. It’s more of our supreme brand, and then we have a second brand called Lerato.
Now Lerato is a fruity, well-balanced wine. That’s where our blends are, so LaRicMal we have three reds. We have a Shiraz, a Cab Sauvignon and a Merlot, and a beautiful 2015 crispy white wine Sauvignon Blanc. Then in Lerato, we have two blends. We have a Classic Red and a Sweet Red.
Now what makes our wines very special is that we get all our wines from the Darling region. Being 20kms from the West Coast, we have a fantastic cold breeze that blows from the sea over the vineyards. Our vines are bush vines, so it controls the temperature of the grapes. We produce bigger grapes, and having bigger grapes you get more fruitier flavours out of your grapes. More flesh in the grapes will produce good, quality wines.
Having quality wines is what we really believe in. We believe in service and delivery. For us that is vitally important. Thirdly, we believe in relationships and our wines are well priced. This combination of how we look at developing the wine business of our brands, in moving forward; we find that this is very good and it attracts a lot of partners that want to buy our brands.
Locally, in South Africa, we are in Pick ‘n Pay, we’re in Checkers in the Western Cape. Now what we definitely need to see is growth nationally. We are happy where we are but we would like to see more retailers getting involved and support smaller brands because our wines are a fantastic quality. We’ve won awards as well, for our wines.
Export, we are currently exporting to Hong Kong. We are busy with an importer now in Ghana. We are moving a bit of wine into Nigeria and via Shoprite, we do nine African countries. We’ve just come back now from China. We went to the ProWine China Show and that was a fantastic platform for not only South African wines but for LaRicMal itself.
So yes we see the wine industry and we feel LaRicMal as being a very strong player within the industry. We have the ability to deliver quality wines. With that coupled with the 36 years’ experience and acumen we feel that yes, we need more support and definitely we can make an impact to the industry.
BB: Malcolm, you mentioned the exporting and obviously the favourable Rand/Dollar exchange rate at the moment for exporters. You export into Africa. You’ve mentioned you’re expanding into China as well. Do you see that as your major growth point in the years to come?
Export is important for everyone
MG: Yes, definitely. Export will be where we will focus more. Firstly, because if you look at over the 500 suppliers in South Africa, the market is quite tight. But also South Africa has room for growth, which will take longer than exports.
You must understand as well we are in a favourite situation because we have the Department of Trade and Industry, and we have Government that is supporting exports. A lot of our exports come from Government and the support that Government is giving us, is in terms of exhibition and trade missions.
Government is funding smaller companies to go out there, with their brands and products and attend these expos. LaRicMal attends close to seven to eight trade missions per annum. So every year we go around the world, looking at getting more importers.
I would say yes, export is where we would like to be. But definitely we need the local retailers, all your corporate local retailers to see more smaller brands on their shelves. I think this must be a drive in South Africa. This is also a way of creating more job opportunities, and that is to see that we sell more of South African wines rather than spending our money on importing whisky. You can get more value by buying South African wine.
BB: Absolutely, Malcolm if people want to find out more about what you are up to and your wines, I know you’ve got a website. Where can they get details online?
How to try LaRicMal
MG: I would welcome many people in fact, many South African people visitors to visit www.laricmal.com and there you can read up all about us. We advertise where our wines are and whatever information you require you can email me to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on my cellphone at 082 456 140 and ask for Malcolm Green.
BB: Brilliant, Malcolm we’ll pop those details on the website, on our website as well, so if people want to click straight through from the show notes they can. Thank you for your time today. Much appreciated. All the best on your growth and as we head towards the end of 2015, I hope 2016 is your best year yet.
MG: Thank you very much and I hope all South Africans have a wonderful bottle of LaRicMal wines on their table for Christmas. Have a Merry Christmas.