10 of 2024

                            Newsletter No 10/22 March 2024





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White biotechnology solutions highlighted

Edited by Nadine James



So mushroom for development:  The development of leather form mushrooms and other white biotechnologies bodes well for a greener textile future

Market intelligence specialists IDTechEx reported in February that handbags made of mushroom leather and biodegradable foodware are two examples of how white biotechnology can produce functional products that look good.

White biotechnology uses en- zymes and microorganisms to produce value-added chemicals from renewable sources, and provides valuable components for the food, pharmaceuticals and With the right input feedstock, such as biomass or gases, and the right fermentation processes, the outputs of white biotechnology processes can be used in textiles, chemicals and fuels.

Using carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the fermentation process can also contribute to the growing circular bioeconomy.

Green Fashion


Large mats made from the mycelium roots of mushrooms are a versatile material used for leather-alternative clothes and accessories.

This is thanks to mycelium having a similar durability to that of traditional leather once treated with a tanning agent.

As mycelium leather is a tough material and treated with preservatives for long-term use, consumers will not have to worry about their handbags degrading.

Microbial leather, derived from the fermentation of bacteria or yeast, may also possess similar sustainable yet functional qualities.

These microorganisms produce collagen or cellulose, among other molecules, which form the structure of the leather alternative material.

The resulting fermentation- based materials are processed so that they become convincingly leather-like in appearance, so donning a pair of smart trainers “does not have to scream mushroom”.



Certain classes of microbes, such as acetogens and knallgas, can use CO2 as a fermentation input alongside hydrogen.

Such CO2 use offers an opportunity to valorise captured CO2 while creating valuable products such as fuels and drop-in chemicals, providing an economic incentive to decarbonise.

Microbes can often handle impurities, allowing minimal flue gas processing when compared with most other CO2 use pathways – such as thermochemical or electrochemical production of CO2-derived e-fuels.

Emerging trends in this area involve using steel mill smelter gas because it is rich in carbon monoxide, hydrogen and CO2.

By using a readily available waste material (namely the CO2), an environmental detriment can be transformed into a positive asset, using biotechnology.

Fossil and Plastic-Free Packaging


Sustainable packaging is a market benefiting from white biotechnology, as with the right combination of inputs, biocatalysts and process parameters, biobased materials can be designed and produced to replace fossil-based plastics.

The impact of biodegradable bioplastics made through white biotechnology could reduce plastic waste in oceans and in landfills, thereby contributing to the success of the circular economy.

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a common bioplastic used in the production of compostable plates and foodware.

The versatility of this material allows it to be produced in different shapes and sizes; for consumers looking to use products that are biodegradable, PLA foodware is a “strong option”.

White biotechnology is a technology enabler for sustainable materials such as animal leather and fossil plastic alternatives that can attract consumers with the benefits of switching to biobased materials “without necessarily giving up on quality”.

White biotechnology can also offer purpose to the gases accumulated by carbon capture, as scientists can put them to good use in making useable and eco-friendly chemicals and materials.

While there is still significant work to be done to widen the application of biobased materials in industries like packaging and fashion, the growth of biobased materials will enable people to make more sustainable choices while shopping, helping the planet and strengthening the bioeconomy. 

Cape Town’s new market Kuier@TheCastle a big success in CBD



Following the resounding success of the first market in February, Cape Town‘s CBD will be buzzing with creativity again on 30 March with the next instalment of Kuier@TheCastle. Hosted by the Craft + Design Institute (CDI) in collaboration with the Castle of Good Hope, this monthly market has already made a significant impact, featuring over 70 local creatives, drawing in over 1300 visitors to the market, and generating over R200 000 in income for the vendors at the inaugural event.

The launch of Kuier@TheCastle on 24 February marked the introduction of an exciting new creative event to the city’s calendar, showcasing the diverse talents of Cape Town’s artisans against the backdrop of one of South Africa’s most iconic cultural landmarks. The next market is scheduled for Saturday, 30 March 2024, from 9am to 4pm.

Kuier@TheCastle has delivered on its promise as a multifaceted experience, featuring an array of local artisanal products, culinary delights, and entertainment to delight all the senses; making it an ideal day out for families. Erica Elk, Group CEO of the Craft + Design Institute, expressed enthusiasm about the event’s future potential, envisioning it as the premier monthly creative gathering in the Central Business District.

“We chose the name ‘Kuier’ because it encapsulates the spirit of communal gathering and shared experiences, and we are delighted to have had such a fabulous turnout realising this vision, and great sales for local creative businesses,” says Elk. “We are providing a space for diverse individuals to connect, engage, and celebrate the extraordinary talents of local artisans amidst great music and food.”

Local businesses give Kuier@TheCastle a big thumbs up

Vendor at the market Grace Arigundia of Nyasha Designs, says, “I felt the Ubuntu, it was all smiles be it the vendors or the customers. There was this togetherness I felt.”

Tracy Lindner of Lindnr Company: “I’ve organised many events and can say that CDI did a superb job. I loved the Proudly African vibe at the event, music, vendors, and flavours. I feel privileged to be a small part of it.”

Rene Baron of Baron Design House: “The market exceeded our expectation. We love the fact that there was so much feet at the market. We love to sell our craft at such markets!”

Gil Padoa of JBeenz: “Just fabulous! It was rolled out so well – the vibe was great. The communal spirit was so fabulous. The customers were also special. I definitely heard customers talk about how lekker it was.”

Andrea Bokelma of Andrea Bok Art: “The Castle grounds looked amazing – super bright, cheerful and inviting. Music was great throughout the day. The variety and quality of the vendors’ products was great, and I most definitely look forward to being part of this market each month.”

Lavern Samuels of Your Local Brew: “A great opportunity to show case Cape Town. Loved the friendly organisers. It was vibey and lively. Loved the crowed that was attracted to the event.”

Exploring history and a space for sharing

Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of the Castle, echoed Elk’s sentiments, emphasising the importance of

accessibility and community engagement. “Our mission at the Castle is to create an inclusive space where all are welcome to learn, understand our history, and participate in building our shared future,” says Gilfellan. “Kuier@TheCastle has proven hugely successful in bringing Capetonians and tourists together in the spirit of Ubuntu, fostering community spirit while supporting local creatives.”

The market promises an array of attractions, including a diverse range of products, food, and entertainment, and pop-ups set within the historic confines of the Castle of Good Hope. Visitors can explore the Castle’s museums and historically significant sites while enjoying live demonstrations and workshops by local artisans.

Elk emphasises the market’s role in supporting small businesses and artists, aligning with the CDI’s mission to promote growth in the creative economy.

To further enhance accessibility, the Castle offers discounted entrance fees on market days, with adult tickets priced at R30, children and pensioners at R15, and free entry for children under 7. The next Kuier@TheCastle market will take place on 30 March 2024, offering visitors safe manned parking within the Castle grounds via the Darling Street entrance.

Visit www.kuiermarket.com

Woolies – changes to senior leadership

The board advised that Zyda Rylands, CEO: Woolworths Foods, will be retiring at the end of August 2024. As part of the Group’s planned succession process, effective 1 July 2024, Sam Ngumeni (Group Chief Operating Officer) will be taking over from Zyda, as CEO of Woolworths Foods.

Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC), and Corporate Affairs.

The Corporate Affairs function led by Zinzi Mgolodela, will now become part of an expanded GRC portfolio, reporting to Chantel Reddiar.

Rex True – trading statement

Shareholders were advised that:

– Rex Trueform’s earnings per share will decrease by 62.3%, from earnings of 265.1 cents per share for the six months ended 31 December 2022, to earnings of 100.0 cents per share for the six months ended 31 December 2023; and
– Rex Trueform’s headline earnings per share will decrease by 62.2%, from headline earnings of 265.2 cents per share for the six months ended 31 December 2022, to headline earnings of 100.3 cents per share for the six months ended 31 December 2023.

The unaudited condensed consolidated interim results for the six months ended 31 December 2023 are expected to be published on SENS on or about 28 March 2024

Company Profile: Fred Footwear

Fred Footwear (FF) is a pioneering footwear manufacturing and retailing concern situated in the Nelson Mandel Bay, Eastern Cape province in South Africa. The company is 100% Black Economic Empowered, second generation family-owned business.

It was established in 2001, a UK-trained fashion designer, who has been involved in the fashion and footwear industry for over forty years. After working for a number of companies across the African continent, he initiated the idea to establish a footwear company.

The company’s mission is to care for our customers’ feet, by manufacturing fashionable and quality, footwear products that provide the utmost comfort. And in so doing, become an influential footwear brand in the markets that it serves.

Fred Footwear has both designing and manufacturing competencies. As all the company’s footwear are designed (by the designing team) and then manufactured on the premise.

Fred Footwear (FF) manufactures genuine leather sandals and shoes (safety & school wear). The company’s business can be grouped into two main categories;

  • Genuine leather men and ladies sandals, which are fully designed and produced by FF. These sandals are endorsed with the company’s brand.
  • Assembly projects outsourced to Fred Footwear by other companies. These orders currently comprises of uppers for safety shoes and various sandals. These sales represent 85% of the production capacity of the company and contribute to 90% of to the company’s annual turnover.

Therefore, the cornerstone of the company’s success lies with securing footwear assembly agreements with third parties. The competencies and capacity obtained from such agreements are leveraged into its in-house products that endorse its brands. The intension is to grow its assembly agreements and invest the retained profits towards increasing market share of its in-house products. 

Fred Footwear’s initial export activities commenced in 2015, to Blantyre, Malawi.  In a pre-Covid-19 era; its products were consistently exported to 3 other SADC countries, namely; Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. FF is currently re-purposing its export strategy for these markets, in a post-Covid era. A strategic thrust towards this intent is to continuously developed products that are not only afro-centric but also are versatile to suit the African lifestyle.

60% of Clothes Are Made With Plastic-based Materials

On top of CO2 emissions being one of the major sources of pollution deriving from the fast fashion industry, garments are also a huge source of microplastics.. A large portion of clothing made today uses durable and cheap materials such as nylon or polyester. It is estimated that approximately 60% of fast fashion items are produced with plastic-based (which is made from fossil fuels) fabrics. Throughout their life cycles, these fabrics are significantly contributing to the worldwide plastic pollution crisis. With each wash and dry, especially the latter, sheds microfilaments that move through our sewage systems and end up in waterways. Researchers estimate that half a million tons of these contaminants reach the ocean each year.


Editorial Submission:

Please remember to send me your news so that we can share it with all our readers in the weekly newsletter. Although editorial is neither guaranteed nor implied, suitable editorial for consideration may be submitted to:- carla@newsbriefs.co.za