Dr Hans Merensky, founder of Westfalia Group, remembered with special commitment

In celebrating the birthday of its founder, the Westfalia Group says it is working towards the long-term target to ultimately recover the Group’s Lifetime Carbon emissions by 2049, which will be exactly 100 years since its first farm was established.

The Doctor in the fields

The founder of the Westfalia Fruit Group, Dr Hans Merensky, would have been 150 years old yesterday. Dr Merensky was an acclaimed geologist and a dedicated humanitarian who had a special love for nature.

Above all he is known for founding South Africa’s best-known avocado producer and a international avocado group. The orchards of Westfalia in the upper catchment area of the Letaba River is shrouded in mystique – and tells stories of yesteryear. It is here that you also pick up the trail of pioneers. Those were times when people arrived from far and wide to settle in the area.

The times of pioneers and visionaries

Westfalia’s name appears on one of the old maps of those times. Dr Merensky and his friends where part of this pioneering spirit. However, he, perhaps more than many others who arrived in the region to seek their fortune, left the most significant and lasting legacy.

The Westfalia Group developed from the avocado orchards of the iconic Westfalia avocado growing estate, near Tzaneen in the Northern regions of South Africa. His lasting legazy is one of conservation work and business development in the northern regions. Landmarks to his work are found everywhere. He settled at Westfalia after first, at a younger age, pursuing business interests elsewhere in Southern Africa, including Namibia’s diamond fields.

Westfalia says its stated goal in terms of carbon immisions will enable the Group to begin the next 100 years as it started, taking responsibility for the past and delivering meaningful change for the future.

This is a refreshing look at the past and the future at times when people tend to want to forget the past. For some it is a source of pride – for others a reminder of what they do not like. Turning the past into the future, as this proud Group is doing, is perhaps the best way forward when we look at history.

“Our aim is to ensure our environmental commitments are an integral part of our day-to-day business, and that we challenge ourselves to build on the Group’s environmental performance and operate globally in a responsible, sustainable manner,” Johnathan Sutton, Group Safety and Environmental Executive of Westfalia Group is reported as saying.

Legacy of sustainability

The Cottage at Westfalia

“Dr Merensky’s legacy means sustainability and this is not a new concept to Westfalia, and our operations continuously challenge themselves throughout the supply chain. For example, in Europe we have developed plastic-free packaging that maintains fruit quality and shelf life. Several of our orchards in South America have developed an innovative, integrated pest management program, working with the local environment to significantly reduce the use of pesticides.”

“In Africa,” he continues, “our processing operations work to use the whole fruit, producing oil, puree and guacamole – resulting in minimal waste.”

He says as Westfalia continues to grow its business, the Group will aim to ensure all assets being established have the latest environmental credentials, using innovative ideas to create exceptional facilities that live out the core purpose, namely to do good.

“As an orchard-fruit producer, we have the potential benefit of capturing carbon through the trees we farm, and our soil is a carbon sink. We increase this potential each year by returning composted green materials back into the orchards.”

Alk Brand, CEO of the Westfalia Fruit Group concludes that climate change is a complex issue, and not one that can be solved in isolation. “However, as responsible guardians of the environment, working together as a team with like-minded partners, we can make a significant positive impact. I am sure Dr Merensky would be proud to see that his legacy continues today and for future generations”.