South Africa has the most modern and diverse agro-processing sector in Africa, with strong upstream linkages to farming production and downstream linkages to wholesale production through intermediate, and retail through final, products.
The agro-processing sector has been identified as a crucial sector for providing labour-intensive growth and has received extensive support through various incentive schemes and billions of rand in investment by both multinational and domestic firms since 2009. The sector benefits from competitive input costs, world-class infrastructure, counter-seasonality to the northern hemisphere, and vast biodiversity and marine resources.
Processing capacity exists for a wide range of products, from high quality commodity types to more niche, market-specific products.
Opportunities lie in both food-based products such as canned fish and vegetables and non-food-based products, such as medicinal extracts. South Africa is a net exporter of agro-processed products. At the same time, South African domestic food demand has increased substantially over the past decade and this trend is expected to continue. The increase has been driven by population growth, changing consumption patterns – mainly of middle-income groups – and gradually improving overall living standards
Food-based opportunities include: fruit and vegetable canning; meat processing including ostrich meat; oil-seed production; fruit juice processing; growing indigenous plants on a commercial scale; soya-based products; organic, vegetarian and vegan foods; dairy, bakery and confectionary products; and canned fish.
Non-food-based opportunities include medicinal extracts; aromatics; flavourants; non-edible oil processing; processing and manufacture of wool-based textiles and clothing; and flax production.