The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry
According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the gross value of agricultural production was an estimated R247bn in 2016, with horticulture contributing 28.5% to this total. Horticultural production was 11.9 million tons, with a gross value of R70.4bn for the marketing season ended June 2016. Although the drought of 2015/2016 had some impact on the production and marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables, horticulture fared better than many other areas of primary agriculture. There are 6,000 commercial farmers currently involved in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, a decrease of 26% over the last decade, and the industry currently employs 250,000 full-time farm labourers but supplements this figure with widely fluctuating seasonal employment.
An Export-Focused Sector
The industry, particularly for fruit, is export-oriented and horticultural produce worth R43.6bn was exported in 2016. South Africa's trade balance in this sector is favourable, with imports of fruit and vegetables totalling only R3.5bn. Although the United Kingdom and Northern Europe remain the largest consumers of South African fruit produce, with the EU region accounting for 35% of South Africa's total deciduous fruit exports, the markets in the Middle East and Asia are becoming increasingly important. Over the last decade deciduous exports to the Middle East and Asia have risen from around 10% to more than 30% in key product categories and a similar trend is evident with regards to citrus exports. The recent signing of Memoranda of Understanding with China, Indonesia and Italy is intended to further increase exports of South African fruit.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry report describes current conditions, investment in the sector and the stagnant market share of National Fresh Produce Markets (NFPMs). Statistics regarding the value of horticultural production are provided while factors influencing the success of the industry and barriers to entry are discussed.