Halls avocados

Halls is a renowned South African family farming business with global reach. Now 125 years old and mindful of its rich heritage, it is also at the forefront when it comes to the production, sourcing, marketing and export of sub-tropical produce – especially avocados. To celebrate its 125th anniversary, Halls has chosen Fruit Logistica 2015 to launch a year-long celebration that honours its heritage and recognises all those who have contributed over the years to the company’s success. To mark this rare milestone, Halls will be unveiling a new brand identity and has compiled a book and video to be launched at ‘125’ Halls events globally.

“Our 125th anniversary is a time to celebrate our history, heritage and continuing growth,” says Craig McBain, Halls’ chief executive (pictured). “It is also a time to acknowledge and appreciate our grower-partners, customers, employees and the communities in which we work. Without them, this significant milestone could not have been realised.”

Craig McBain HL Hall

Over the years, Halls has continuously drawn on the early generations’ pioneering spirit, instinct for innovation and capacity for reinvention. It pioneered the cold-chain process to ship avocados successfully from South Africa, timed to be ripe-and-ready in European markets and supported by Halls’ invention of a special ripening measurement technology. It also introduced integrated organic pest management, thus reducing and almost eliminating the need for pesticides, and was the first avocado producer in the world to achieve the coveted ISO 9000 quality accreditation. More recently, the company moved to meet rising demand for ripe-and-ready products with the launch of its own Halls Ripe avocado and mango range, along with investment in international warehouse expansion and further ripening facilities. A phased development started in Paris in 2013 will increase ripening and storage capacity to 1,500m2 by the end of 2014. Other facilities in key locations Marseille, the UK and South Africa enable Halls to participate in every link in the value chain, from farming and sourcing to packing and ripening.

A newly acquired facility in the Netherlands opening in January 2015 will further enable the company to bring consumers “closer to the tree”, while offering a full range of added-value products. However, the company believes its “soul remains in the soil,” as it retains a firm foundation in farming. Indeed, as a thriving vertically integrated global fresh produce business, Halls has over 1,800ha of orchards under management, with operations in four countries and annual sales of more than five million cartons of avocado.

Paul Devlin, the group’s head of international operations, recognises the importance of securing year-round supply of quality fruit to deliver reliably and consistently to customers worldwide. With produce from South Africa largely fulfilling Halls’ summer commitments, the company continues to develop a winter supply through partnerships in other regions.

Hugh Lanion Hall founded the business in 1890 on the banks of the picturesque Crocodile River in the then Eastern Transvaal, a sub-tropical area that is now part of the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. Still owned by the family, his company has survived the Anglo-Boer War, the Great Depression, two World Wars and the dark years of apartheid in South Africa. It has prospered by continually adapting to economic pressures and to radical changes in agricultural technology, consumer demands, export practices and trade structures. “While Halls celebrates and reflects on its past,” says McBain, “it actively looks to its future, as the team takes on new challenges and opportunities for growth. It is here that our values, and the principles of innovation and service inherent in our DNA, will ensure that we keep alive the powerful spirit of the business that HL Hall founded in 1890.”