The South African Funeral Services Sector
This report focuses on South Africa’s thriving funeral services industry which is estimated to generate revenue of between R7.5bn and R10bn each year. Role players in the formal and informal funeral sectors estimate that at least 70,000 undertakers are active in the domestic death care market and that approximately 15,000 funeral parlours are operational. Of interest is that in this competitive market the largest players jointly serve less than 4% of the domestic market.
A Lack of Reliable Statistics
Reliable statistics regarding the size of the local funeral industry, as well as its contribution to South Africa’s GDP are not available. This can be attributed to the fact that the sector is characterised by high levels of informality and undertakers are not required to register with one of the three industry bodies. Informal operators are widely supported by an indeterminate number of stokvels, as well as by over 100,000 burial societies. Stakeholders report numerous problems including an indeterminate number of unlicensed ‘backyard’ service providers, illegal burials and unreported deaths.
Although there are relatively few private cemeteries in South Africa, private memorial parks are becoming increasingly popular. Significant players include Fourways Memorial Park, Legacy Parks and Calgro M3’s Nasrec Memorial Park. Growing in popularity in the formal sector are lavish funeral ceremonies and ‘after tears parties’, ‘green’ funerals, ‘living funerals’, also known as pre-funerals, and live Internet streaming of funerals.
The Funeral Services and Related Activities report describes current conditions, recent developments including innovations in light of the increasing shortage of land, and factors influencing the success of the sector. The report profiles 14 companies operational in the formal market, including the AVBOB Group, the Doves Group (Pty) Ltd, and franchisors, Martin’s Funerals Franchising (Pty) Ltd and 21st Century Life (Pty) Ltd. Also profiled are Batho Batsho Bakopane Funeral Services SA (Pty) Ltd t/a B3 Funeral Services which operates locally and in Swaziland, and the Independent Crematoriums of South Africa (ICSA), which operate 12 of the country’s 25 crematoriums.