South Africa is exporting more food. But it needs to find new growth frontiers
The major export crops continued to be maize, wine, grapes, citrus, berries, nuts, apples and pears, sugar, avocados, and wool.
These products have been the drivers of exports over the past couple of decades. In particular, fruit and wine have increasingly become the leading export products. These have driven a rise in the value of agriculture (and agro-processing) exports, which have averaged 11% of the South Africa’s overall exports, up from 9% in the decade before.
South Africa now exports roughly half of its agricultural produce in value terms. Citrus, table grapes, wine and a range of deciduous fruits dominate the export list. Increasingly, we are seeing the encouraging uptick in beef exports.
These robust exports have enabled South Africa to retain its position as a net exporter of agricultural products over time. In 2022, South Africa’s agricultural exports reached US$12.8bn, up 4% from the previous year.
Imports, nevertheless, remain significant, averaging US$6.6bn over the past five years. In 2022, the top imported products were rice, palm oil, wheat, poultry and whiskies. These originated primarily from Asia, the European Union, the UK and the Americas.
Based on my calculations, using Trade Map 2022 data, South Africa’s agricultural imports amounted to US$7.3 billion, up 6% from the previous year. Considering this import value against the export value of US$12.8 billion, South Africa’s agriculture realised a record trade surplus of US$5.5bn.
In view of this, focus should now be on expansion of South Africa’s agricultural exports beyond its typical markets in the African continent, EU and parts of Asia, to new growth frontiers. There is growth in domestic production, and South Africa will require new markets for the expanding harvest.
The priority countries for expanding agricultural exports should be China, South Korea, Japan, the US, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, the Philippines and Bangladesh. All have sizeable populations and large imports of agricultural products.
Who is buying South African?
My calculations using Trademap data show that the African continent remains a leading market, accounting for 37% of South Africa’s agricultural exports in 2022.
These exports are concentrated within the Southern African Development Community region. But my recent research shows that South Africa’s agriculture export opportunities within the African continent will be limited due to structural challenges, preventing the agricultural sector from expanding its exports into untapped markets. This is despite the hope that’s been placed on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Asia was the second-largest agricultural market, accounting for 27% of exports, followed by the EU, accounting for 19%. The Americas region was the fourth largest, accounting for 7%, and the remaining 10% went to the rest of the world.
Within the rest of the world category, the UK, historically South Africa’s major market for agricultural produce, was one of the leading markets.
The products of exports to these markets were primarily the same, with the African continent and Asia importing over two-thirds of maize harvests. Meanwhile, exports to other regions were mainly fruit and wine.
Asia has seen much faster growth in exports over the past six years, while the African continent and the EU have remained fairly stable.
Courtesy of Bizcommunity – read full article here.