South Africa’s agricultural exports increased to a cumulative value of R123.8 billion by end of October 2017 driven by solid performance from fruits, sugar, dairy and grains products.

This is according to Sifiso Ntombela, head of International Trade and Investment Intelligence at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz).

Ntombela said agricultural exports recorded a positive growth rate of 1.6 percent whereas imports declined by 4.1 percent as compared to the corresponding period last year.

Following a relatively decent fruit and grain production season coupled with the weaker exchange rate, the agricultural exports, by end of October 2017, were R2 billion higher than the same time in the previous year. Exports continue to be dominated by unprocessed products such as fruits and grains while imports are led by processed products such as prepared food, beverages and meat.

“Fruits, grains, and sugar products were best foreign earners collectively generating R51.4 billion which is equivalent to 41.5 percent share in total agricultural exports,” explained Ntombela. Grains and sugar exports increased by 32.4 and 33.1 percent relative to the previous year, respectively. Ntombela said other products that performed well include oilseeds and dairy. “In contrast, meat, wheat and prepared vegetables recorded the biggest decline which averaged at 13.4 percent as compared to corresponding period last year”.

In terms of market destination, agricultural exports to Africa and Europe declined by 3 and 1 percent respectively, whereas Asia witnessed an increase of 12 percent as compared to the previous year. “Interestingly, imports from American market declined by R33 percent as compared to previous year whilst imports from Africa and Europe remained relatively the same as in 2016,” Ntombela said.

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