The Current State of Fruit & Vegetable Agro-Processing in South Africa

In 2018, the Dutch Embassy commissioned a study on agro-processing in South Africa whose findings are presented in this report. It provides an overview of the current state of the agro-processing industry in South Africa, describes the current challenges and identifies the extent to which the agro-processing industry can add value, with the aim of limiting imports. The study provides recommendations and identifies Dutch technologies and solutions which are applicable to the South African context.

Netherlands as partner

Dutch farming, horticulture and fisheries are continually innovating, making The Netherlands a global leader in these sectors. Dutch agriculture remains successful by continually investing in sustainable development and the renewal of agricultural production chains, where farmers are full partners in the agricultural production chains. The Netherlands promotes and supports technologies and innovations that support circular principles (for example use of robotics, sensor technology, precision agriculture, waste reduction & bringing waste to value).

The Netherlands is a reliable, innovative and solution-driven partner in the AGRI sector. To truly understand the unique South African context and achieve real results in the area of agriculture we actively engage with South African stakeholders. Through these Dutch - South African cooperations in the agricultural sector we co-create ideas and innovations for a sustainable future in South Africa and the Netherlands.  The Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa is committed to bringing together the South Africans and the Dutch.

In 2011 the Dutch Embassy conducted a study on the context of agro-processing in South Africa. Among other things, this study discovered that the South African agro-processing industry is extensive. By and large, the quality of processing for most of the primary agricultural products is determined by consumer affordability and not consumer social preferences such as health effects, animal welfare and other ethical imperatives. However, there is now a growing emerging middle class that is leaning towards including their social preferences when buying food.

Import of manufacturing sector

Additionally, according to the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in 2014, the total imports relative to the manufacturing sector totalled 15.2%, while for the whole economy this was 10.1% respectively. This indicates a relative high dependence on import in the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, it was also argued that some of the agricultural processed products imported from other countries are from primary products produced in South Africa, driving up the dependence on import within the manufacturing sector.

Opportunities for local agro-processing industry

These were interesting facts and asked for a new, updated study that would seek to identify opportunities where the South African local agro-processing industry could be scaled up and expanded to adjust to the changing consumer preferences, to take advantage of the extensiveness of the agro-processing industry and to drive down dependence on import within the manufacturing sector. Thus in 2018, the Dutch Embassy commissioned a study on agro-processing whose findings are presented in this report. You can download it through the link below.

The report is giving a clear overview of the current state of Fruit & Vegetable agro-processing in South Africa. This is mainly based upon existing sources. The value is here that significant amount of information is compiled together. The study also outlines insights in value chains and challenges in the processing of Fruit and Vegetables. Then a number of examples are given of Dutch companies that do offer knowledge and technology in several relevant developments and often supporting circular principles.

From the study it becomes clear where Dutch contributions can be made based on the interests and developments of Dutch companies. It is a good starting point for South African stakeholders to seek engagements with Dutch companies and for Dutch companies to seek where their competencies meet South African needs and developments.

We wish you a productive reading  and specifically we hope that this input will give you some ideas and tools to determine the way forward for various initiatives you are involved in.

Dr Jack Vera

Agricultural Counsellor - Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Pretoria