Company Background

APL Cartons (Pty) Ltd is a successful, profitable, privately owned company. Our shareholders are the following major export fruit pack houses: Two a Day, Kromco, Ceres Fruit Growers, Sundays River Citrus Company and Good Hope Citrus. For well over the past quarter of a century, APL Cartons has successfully grown their business to exceed the power and impact of the major players. We have, however, maintained the success and energy enjoyed through a “hands on” approach of a smaller company. We believe in long term, mutually beneficial relationships and as a result many clients have been with us since our early years of operating. We believe this is a result of a strong value system which is built on openness, trust and high levels of service to our clients. This guides our business.

Quality assurance

APL Cartons has developed a quality assurance system to the extent where all products produced in our facility undergo extensive attribute and statistical process control (SPC) variable testing. SPC trend analysis has become a key tool in APL’s day-to-day management of material, people and machines: The Infinity QS software is used to generate 6-Sigma control charts, X & R Bar charts, pareto charts, box plots, standard distribution charts, etc. With 6-Sigma knowledge as a base these tools can be used to analyze and evaluate process trends with proactive decision-making.

The goal of this measurement is to quantify the quality of any machine or operator as possible defects per million opportunities. APL currently has a system in place where the quality inspectors audit the process (random sampling method) in order to document any attribute quality defects. The variable data checks are captured on the SPC system.

Traceability procedure (internal procedure only) Non-conformance Procedure:
By using the batch number on the bottom of any carton, we are able to trace back to the batch of the boards that have been converted. The board batch records list the paper reel number. Traceability is an important protocol required by our export fruit pack houses that make up a major part of our client base. This is audited from time to time in order to make the process secure.

Distribution infrastructure and capacity

APL Cartons operates from a MEGA plant in Worcester.

We use Pool Transport as our main contractor for transport. They are situated in Worcester, close to our plant and over the years, have demonstrated their ability to deliver a high level of service. From time to time, we use other subcontractors to deliver cartons where Pool Transport are unable to meet our demands. This is occurs in less than 1% of occasions.

Employment practices/black economic empowerment

Strike History:
The company has an excellent relationship with its union of which we are very proud of. We see them as an important stakeholder and together we add value to all stakeholders of the business.

Employment Equity:
The Company has union representation for the weekly paid staff. The union which is recognized since the beginning twenty years ago is SATU. SATU, with the help of the company, created a trust which purchased a truck and helped with the delivery of finished products to customers. We believe that our relationship with the unions is one of our competitive advantages.

Black Economic Empowerment:
It is important for us to achieve sustainable empowerment. Every empowerment intervention is measured against the criteria that it must add value to all stakeholders. Our shareholders are owned by fruit growers. People who own farming land and produce export fruit. For our shareholding to change the farmland of our shareholders must change. For this reason we engaged the government to ensure the necessary funds are available for farmland transformation. APL Cartons received agency status from the department of land affairs. Some time ago we appointed a farm land transformation manager to assist us in this process. This has assisted us in ensuring that the necessary farmland transformations have taken place at a shareholder level. This has increased our black shareholding. APL Cartons has a unique and sincere approach to BEE. As a group owned by farmers, we are focusing on doing many unusual and beneficial things in our industry. We will gladly share further details with clients should there be further interest. Our primary focus on our scorecard is currently skills development and employment equity. A copy of our present accreditation certificate received from EMEX trust is attached showing our level 4 accreditation. This assures you of procurement recognition of 100%, buying from APL Cartons.

Contingency plans

APL Cartons has installed an electrical generator that is able to keep our plant functioning in case of power supply interruptions. During power outages we are able to work on a “business as usual” basis.

APL Cartons has a 2nd corrugator to use in case of any unforeseen emergencies. Our capacity on our corrugators is only at 68% utilization. There is synergy between our various converting machines – if one machine is down for planned maintenance we are able to switch the order to another machine. Here our plant utilization is only at 63%.

Our shareholders demand high levels of spare capacity so that we can deal with changes in demand in the fruit industry without affecting any other areas of our business.

APL Cartons uses a modern MRP system to manage our raw material stocks. We stock around 3 months’ worth of paper. This may sound like a considerable amount, but paper is our “life’s blood”.

Sales and service

Should any quality / service issues occur, the marketing manager responsible, will investigate and address the issues at hand with the team at our Worcester facility. Clients also have access to any of our senior management team. Daily Flagging meetings are held every morning where any potential problems are foreseen for delivery over the next few days. These potential problems are “flagged” and reported to the full senior management team. This allows a complete “hands on” approach to customer service. APL Cartons strives to attain the highest service levels possible.

We also have supplier partnering programs with our clients. These partnership programs cover the following elements and measurements:

  • Quality measurement and statistical results.
  • Service ON TIME IN FULL measurements
  • Research and development / cost reduction projects
  • Communication and overall service

Service level agreement / Customer Service:

Our customer service is important to us and is covered in our ISO procedure. The procedure is as shown below:


  • As a result of our flexibility normal lead-time for existing products is 10 working days. For new products the normal lead-time is 15 working days from the day the final design is signed off by the customer.
  • Orders will only be accepted in writing by fax, e-mail or a signed internal order. No verbal orders will be accepted.
  • The ability for customers to share forecasted demand enable us to plan into the future and to ensure high levels of customer service.
  • Orders will be delivered within a variance of 10% over or under of the order quantity.
  • APL Cartons will endeavor to deliver on time and in full at least 98% of all orders.
  • Any potential for late deliveries is communicated to the customer timeously.
  • Dates that APL Cartons will endeavor to effect delivery of the order will be confirmed to the client in writing within 24 hours after receipt of order.
  • Our plant is set up as a long run plant where minimum orders of 5 000 cartons are accepted.
  • Any outstanding balance of any order will be delivered after 3 months after placing.
  • A Customer Service Survey (Barometer) is conducted annually to assess the customer satisfaction. This will be done across a broad base of clients.
  • Prices will be reviewed in September every year.
  • Cancellation of orders or changes to orders may only take place if the production process has not started.
  • Our target lead-time to provide quotations to clients is to do so within 48 hours.
  • Where applicable, APL Cartons will manufacture and deliver against a firm order, over a 3 month period.
  • Small strategic, buffer stocks are held for clients who may have this specific need. These are carefully controlled to ensure minimal investment in return for high levels of service.

Technologies used

APL Cartons uses the flexographic printing process and we are able to print up to 4 colours.

Corporate social investment

APL Cartons (Pty) Ltd is committed to creating sustainable prosperity that brings long term social and economic benefits to all stakeholders. Donations should build economic, social and cultural capacity and create a social and economic legacy.

Funding priorities
In order to assist in the development of sustainable prosperity within the communities we in, APL Cartons has prioritized four core funding areas;
1. Skills and development
2. Branding
3. Community development
4. Environmental protection

Funding area objectives
1. Skills and development:
Funding allocated under this priority supports initiatives that have as its core purpose the establishment of a community which attracts people with the necessary skill sets from which we would be able recruit.
The four areas of focus under this funding objective is:
Education – Schools
Religious nurturing – Churches
Safety and security – Police and neighbour watch
Infrastructure and tourism – Business forums
Health – Hospital and clinics

2. Community development
The funding objectives main purpose is the development of the community in which we operate and as a result contribute to a better life for all in the community.
Areas of focus are:
Bursaries for tertiary educational institutions.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation initiatives
Abused and neglected children
Institutes for the blind and deaf

Safety, health and environment

APL Cartons (Pty) Ltd has commitment to a comprehensive SHE program. This has commitment from our senior management. We are a NOSA 5 Star Company and have regular audits done in terms of safety and compliance to the requirements of the OSH Act. Our HIV/AIDS program ensures training for all employees. This is managed by our in-house Industrial Nursing Sister. We are committed to maintaining safe and responsible management of the environment. We are involved in the South African initiative on Carbon Foot Print and Green House Gas projects.

Environmental sustainability

At APL Cartons, we have an environmental responsibility. Together with the fruit industry, we have developed a carbon calculator. This carbon calculator enables growers of fruit and fruit pack houses to calculate the impact of their operations on the environment.

We are also, quite uniquely, able to ensure that 100% of the waste generated in our plant is recycled. We believe that wild life in the region is a key to our sustainability.