Agribusiness sector in South Africa

South Africa requires a significant amount of imports to cater to the increasing variety of products that sophisticated South African consumers are demanding, particularly for niche and speciality products.

Market overview

The South African Government has embarked on three core strategies to realign the historical legacies and compete globally. These are: to enhance the equitable access and participation in the agricultural sector; to improve global competitiveness and profitability; and to ensure sustainable resource management. Through this increasing support from the government, South Africa has seen its production in many agricultural sub-sectors significantly grow over the last few years.

South Africa is a major agricultural producer and is self-sufficient in most major food crops. This sector is vital to the national economy providing employment for around 30% of the working population. It currently produces ±85% of its domestic meat demand, as well as being largely self sufficient in the dairy sector. Other major agricultural produce includes sugar, fish, fruit and wine. The alcoholic drinks industry is growing as South Africa’s reputation for producing good wines continues to increase.

The estimated value of imports of agricultural products during 2010/11 came to ±£3 105 million, an increase of 14.3% from 2009/10. The value of exports increased by 6.9%, from 2009/10 to ±£3 805 million in 2010/11. The result was a positive agricultural trade balance of ±£700 million, in 2010/11.

Key opportunities

There will be opportunities in most of the Agri-tech sectors as more government efforts will be placed on strengthening food security, broadening market access, infrastructure development and investment in research. Specific opportunities may be found in the following:


Since May 2011 British beef can now be exported to South Africa, following the end of a 15-year embargo. The removal of the ban means that domestically produced deboned beef from anatomically recognisable cuts, as well as a significant range of offal, can be sold into South Africa. South Africa was the largest non-EU market for English beef prior to the BSE crisis in 1996. The lifting of the ban will come as great news to all British beef farmers looking to export to South Africa.

Food Supply Chain Technologies

South Africa is a significant producer and exporter of fresh produce, but the South Africa Government and business alike recognise the need for robust food safety/hygiene and traceability systems to ensure that produce meets the requirements for export, in particular to Europe and the US. The UK offers world-class expertise in these areas.

Equine Science

There is an aspiration for South Africa to develop its horse industry further. The UK is well positioned to provide training in all aspects of equine care and management, science and research collaboration especially in relation to equine diseases, nutrition, training, equine business management as well as genetics.

Training Opportunities

There are specific areas of agricultural training that are required within South Africa. The following will change from time to time as the needs of the sector change however opportunities for training have been identified in the following:

  • veterinary sciences

  • agricultural economics, trade and business

  • agricultural engineering

  • food sciences

  • agricultural sciences

  • viticulture

  • horticulture

  • plant pathology

  • bio-technology

Latest export opportunities in the Agriculture, Horticulture and Fisheries sector

Latest export opportunities in South Africa

Getting into the market

There are two ways of getting into the South African Agribusiness market;

  • Partnering with a local distributor to market and distribute the British product within South Africa

  • Going directly to the major retailers or end users.

More about doing business in South Africa


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

David Edmondson

Trade & Investment Advisor

UKTI Johannesburg

+27 (0)21 405 2420

E: [email protected]

Jennifer Carter

Trade & Investment Officer

UKTI Cape Town, British Consulate-General

T: +27 (0)21 405 2489

E: [email protected]

Contact your local international trade team

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in the Agriculture, Horticulture and Fisheries sector

Major Events

KZN Royal Agricultural Show

Date: 25 May – 03 June 2013

Website address:

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Agriculture, Horticulture & Fisheries
Countries: South Africa
Export Action Plan