We take a look at three packaging firms based in Cape Town, capital of South Africa's second richest province, Western Cape

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Panorama image of Cape Town (Credit: Wikimedia)

In a special 2019 series, NS Business titles are shining a spotlight on South Africa. Here, Thomas Parker profiles packaging companies based in the country’s legislative capital, Cape Town


As the world’s 34th largest export economy, and the 47th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index, manufacturing is a key part of business in South African cities, with exports worth $108bn in 2017.

One province benefitting from the strength of this export market is Western Cape, which is the second-richest region of South Africa  – with a per capita GDP of $8,694 – and has the highest Human Development Index in the nation.

Its capital, Cape Town, has been one of driving forces behind this, with companies around the city – including in the packaging industry – thriving.

From a family-run business to one of the biggest firms in South Africa, we take a look at three packaging companies contributing to the success.


Packaging companies based in Cape Town


Merrypak was founded by Madeline and Mike Pate when they purchased a tiny printing works in Cape Town in 1985, with two machines – one of which was used as spare parts to keep the other in operation.

A year later, Madeline’s daughter Julie Tobiansky joined the business to file documents and answer the phone, with the business in the process of growing.

packaging companies in cape town
Outside on of Merrypak’s factories (Credit: Merrypak)

The firm started off as a printing house, before moving into the hand-folded carrier bags and boxes market, with Julie’s husband Mervy coming on board to run the factory.

This saw the business expand and the factory moved to Ndabeni, an industrial suburb of Cape Town, in 1995.

Merrypak has since grown into a firm that employs 250 staff and occupies three units in Ndabeni – which is home to its retail shop, where it sells some of its packaging products.

The business currently sells carrier bags, boxes, wrapping, bottles and jars, with most of these shipped across Southern Africa.

Over the past few years, Merrypak has employed staff with varying degrees of disability, and worked with people who don’t have easy access to the job market, with the aim of having an inclusive workplace where people can fulfil their potential and where their input can be valued.


Polyoak Packaging

Founded in 1976 in Cape Town, Polyoak Packaging is a producer of plastic products in the dairy, beverage, food and industrial markets.

It is the parent company of seven packaging firms – including bucket producer Contan, closures division African Closures, moulded containers manufacturer Blowpack, tubs developer Dairypack Tubs, cartons maker Dairypack Cartons, motor oil packager Lubripack and plastic bottle maker Polypet.

packaging companies in cape town
One of Polyoak’s facilities (Credit: Polypoak)

The company has 47 manufacturing plants in South Africa, with factories also based in Namibia, Zimbabwe and the US, employing 2,000 people.

Polyoak’s managing director is Jeremy Macintosh, who was named the Packaging Council of South Africa’s “packaging achiever” in 2013.



Nampak was founded in 1968 through a merger between National Containers and National Packaging, and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange a year later.

Since then, the firm has acquired many other businesses, including packaging giant Crown Holding’s operation in Anglophone Africa – a region of West Africa – as well as rigid plastics producer Malbak and glass producer Wiegand Glass.

As South Africa’s largest packaging manufacturer with a diversified portfolio, Nampak produces beverage cans, rigid plastics and paper cartons.

packaging companies in cape town
Nampak is South Africa’s largest diversified packaging manufacturer (Credit: Nampak)

More than 90% of the company’s revenue – which was 17.3bn rand ($1.2bn) in 2018 – is recorded over its 43 sites in Africa, with the rest coming from its eight sites in Europe.

The firm employs more than 5,000 people globally.

It has a research and development facility in Cape Town, which provides technical and innovative product development support across the business.

The company’s chairman, appointed in 2009, is Peter Surgey.

He has more than 20 years’ worth of management experience at design firm Plascon and industrial brand management company Barloworld.