The Hoekstra Group has become a household name in the South African table grape industry and is known for selling a premium brand and being at the forefront of cultivar innovation.  Maleen Hoekstra was appointed Hoekstra Group’s new CEO when her father passed away in January 2022.

Over the years she has developed an extensive knowledge of the industry.  She played a leading role in the deregulation of the South African fruit industry by providing input for the Basson Committee (1989), the Kassier Commission (1991/2) and a parliamentary committee that prepared the way for the new Marketing of Agricultural Products Act of 1996.

At the time there was no blueprint for grower-exporters.  Maleen was one of the founder members of Independent Fruit Growers and Exporters, which was established in 1993 to try and fill this gap.  She also realised that the company would need to build a dedicated coldstore to manage their future exports.  Noord-Agter Paarl Koelkamers (NAPK) became the first producer-owned coldstore in the industry.

She established Hoekstra Sales in 1996 and the following year Hoekstra Fruit Farms was among the first independent growers to receive a permit to export 100,000 cartons of grapes.

Maleen realised that to become an effective player in the export market, it would be necessary for the Hoekstra brand to be present on the European market throughout the South African marketing season. To this end, Maleen approached two growers in 1998, one from the Northern Cape and the other from the Hex River Valley, and offered to export a portion of their crop. This increased Hoekstra Sales’ total exports to one million cartons.

Hoekstra Fruit Exporters was established in 2005 with the same marketing strategy as Hoekstra Sales, namely to maintain a Hoekstra presence in the European market throughout the South African marketing season. Today, Hoekstra Fruit Farm’s production has grown to the point where Hoekstra Fruit Exporters only exports Hoekstra Fruit Farms’ fruit.