This report examines the fresh fruit and vegetable sector in South Africa. South Africa’s horticultural produce was worth R78bn in the 2017/2018 growing season and the sector employs over 300,000 people. A major area of focus is the marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables through South Africa’s key distribution channels for horticulture: national fresh produce markets, large supermarkets, processors, and exports, all of which are discussed in detail in the report, as are numerous factors influencing the sector’s success.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry
South African horticulture plays an increasingly key role in the wider agricultural sector and is a particularly important category for the country’s agricultural exports. Horticulture’s contribution to the value of total agriculture has steadily increased over the past two decades and fresh fruit and vegetables accounted for 28.8% of annual gross value of agricultural production in the 2017/2018 season. The horticultural industry accounts for over one third of total employment in South African agriculture.
While the vegetable market remains primarily driven by local demand, fruit is a lucrative export crop and South Africa a key supplier of deciduous and citrus fruit to counter-seasonal markets in the northern hemisphere. The industry faces several headwinds, and role players have identified water shortages and land expropriation without compensation as key challenges. The average price of agricultural land fell sharply during the first nine months of 2018 as expropriation concerns escalated. Despite the drought, which had a marked impact on the volume of summer and winter grains, horticultural production has been stable and exports are forecast to grow.