Andre da Costa
Distribution and marketing business, Manjoh Foods, run by husband-and-wife team, Andre and Michelle da Costa, is a popular and trusted household name amongst SA consumers for its great value, great tasting maize meal and dry grain products. 

The company promotes healthy living from the grain to the plate and its mission is to bring the community together through its affordable, high-quality food as well as its continued investments in community-based initiatives.

Manjoh Foods supplies both major outlets and local businesses. The company also delivers various grocery goods of well-known brands to its smaller retailers and spaza shops which has in turn, been introducing the Manjoh brand to new markets.

Here, we get to know the face behind the brand and managing director of the company, Andre da Costa. 

Andre, tell us about yourself and your career journey thus far.
AdC: Well, I have been in the FMCG market for roughly 20 years. I first owned and managed a Maize Milling and dry grains packaging concern. 

My strengths are in marketing and sales. I managed to build a strong maize meal brand in the Gauteng and Mpumalanga area (Manjoh Super Maize Meal). 

What do you most enjoy about working in the FMCG industry and in the maize/grains space in particular?
AdC: I enjoy sales and marketing, but I find the whole process from farm to Agro-processing – the complete value chain completely fascinating and exciting.

Could you tell us about the biggest challenges you have experienced and overcome, as well as the most valuable career lessons you have learned to date?
AdC: Creating a brand and not just buying brand equity with low prices but building a brand with value for money and quality in mine.

That is one of the lessons I learnt – to sell on a price point only is short-term whereas value for money gives you a longer lifespan as a brand.

What is your guiding principle in life and what motivates you on your journey as a valuable brand owner and custodian?
AdC: People are everything (the right people) and treating those people right is everything. You can’t motivate the wrong people.

Can you tell us about some of the community-based initiatives that Manjoh Foods is investing in to further develop our local communities and help defeat the crisis of food insecurity in the country?
AdC: Besides all the charities we donate to, we believe in: “if you give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but if you teach a man to fish and they will feed others as well.” 

We have been working with Department of Social-Development in both Gauteng and Mpumalanga with projects involving youth employment in the retail and agriculture sectors. The ideas in discussion are Urban farming and container spaza shops.

What local consumer trends have you noticed recently with regards to maize and dry grain product consumption, and what challenges and opportunities do you foresee for the market in the coming year?
AdC: The slowdown in the economy has led maize meal purchasing consumers to move to smaller pack sizes like 5kg and 2.5kg packs. This is also due to the increase in food prices – especially with proteins like beef and chicken. 

Consumers are looking for and buying into cheaper forms of protein like lentils especially red speckled beans.

Best advice you can share with prospective maize meal entrepreneurs?
AdC: We need to reinvent the industry and we need to add value. 

The market is over-traded but big enough for all. We need to see how you can put a new twist to your product. Covid and a struggling economy has forced a lot of business to rethink products and directions. 

It is the perfect time to think outside the box for a changing world.

By Jessi Wesson