After reaching a record level of $10.6-billion in 2018, South Africa’s agricultural exports fell by 8% year-on-year in 2019, to $9.8-billion. However, this was unsurprising as agricultural production data for 2019 showed a notable decline in a number of exportable commodities because of the drought.
The temporary ban on exports of livestock products and wool in 2019, following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at the start of the year, also contributed to the decline in exports. Be that as it may, the top exportable agricultural products for 2019 included citrus, wine, grapes, apples and pears, sugar, macadamia nuts, wool and maize.
Over the same period, South Africa’s agricultural products imports declined by 4% y/y to $6.4-billion.
From a destination point of view, the African continent and Europe continued to be the largest markets for South Africa’s agricultural exports, respectively absorbing 41% and 26% of total exports in 2019, measured in value terms. The leading products to these markets were beverages, fruit, vegetables, sugar, wool and grains.
South Africa’s agricultural exports could recover somewhat in 2020. The improved weather conditions have led to an increase in summer crops’ area plantings and prospects of a bigger maize harvest, which is an exportable commodity. The South African wine grapes production is also set to increase in 2020, thus contributing to a larger wine volume output.