On 26 June 1916, Sammy Marks registered the Vereeniging Milling Company (VMC) as a subsidiary of Vereeniging Estates Limited. A year after VMC’s registration, Marks, together with Adolf Sacks (a miller from Eastern Europe) built a maize mill in Vereeniging which still dominates the town’s skyline. It was the first maize mill in South Africa to be equipped with mechanised handling facilities for bulk intake and storage of maize. The mill also played a major role in the evolution of staple food for the black population.
In the early 1920’s, the Vereeniging mill was equipped to express oil from oil bearing seeds, mainly groundnuts, and the oil obtained was marketed under the now familiar trade name of Epic Oil Mills Ltd (EPOL). Sammy Marks was succeeded by Monty Ross, a keen businessman with an eye for joint ventures. At the time, VMC was suffering financially and Ross sold the oil plant to Consolidated Oil Products in Johannesburg. Back in the black again in 1934, Ross (together with Premier Milling Company) purchased 90% of VMC from Vereeniging Estates. The new company formed the nucleus of the EPOL balanced animal feed organisation. The change in ownership heralded a period of expansion which culminated in the flotation of Vereeniging Milling as a public company in June, 1948 with a primary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange - registered as Vereeniging Consolidated Mills Ltd.
In 1994, a new mill complex was constructed immediately alongside Premier’s existing mill because most of the intake and finished product machinery was designed to become common to both mills.
General Food Industries Ltd (Genfood) purchased Premier Food Industries Limited on the 1st August 1998. Genfood and Premier Food Industries were merged to create a new Genfood whose name was later changed to Premier Foods Limited, the makers of South Africa’s leading carbohydrate foodstuff brands Iwisa and Impala maize meal, Blue Ribbon bread and Snowflake flour. As from 19 October 2004, Fabcos (Foundation For African Business And Consumer Services) together with funding partner, Nedbank, own 100% of Premier Foods with Fabcos being the controlling shareholder with a 55% shareholding. This established South Africa’s only true black owned and controlled staple food company with sales of R4-billion-a-year. The company takeover followed the takeover of the management of Premier by Fabcos earlier in 2004 and the subsequent restructuring of the nearly R700-million loan that Fabcos took from Nedbank in 1999 to buy its initial 73% stake in the company.