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Potatoes hold crown as most traded agricultural product in SA

Potatoes hold crown as most traded agricultural product in SA

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Potatoes retain the crown as the largest traded agricultural product in the fresh produce market system in South Africa, according to the National Agricultural Marketing Council’s (Namc) Smallholder Market Access Estimates for September.

The South African National Fresh Produce Markets’ total mass traded in September was 282 956 million tons, growing 11% compared to the prior year, while it generated revenue of R1.74 billion, an increase of 6%.

As South Africa’s population grew so did the demand for fresh produce on a yearly basis.

The report covers 16 fresh produce markets spread across eight provinces in South Africa. The analysis is largely limited to potatoes, onions, tomatoes, bananas and vegetables and fruits traded in the system.

The average price of potatoes declined by 55% ranging from 100% in Kie to 44% in Cape Town. An average 21% decline was recorded for bananas ranging from a 38% decline in Msunduzi and 0% in Kei and Vereeniging.

However, the highest increase in the average price was recorded for onions at 188% with a range from 286% in Vereeniging and 0% in Kei. Tomatoes averaged 42% with the lowest price change at 0% in Mbombela and Kei, while a maximum was at 71% in Cape Town.

Overall, Namc said all the markets exhibited positive price changes for onions and tomatoes in September. Significant declines in prices were also observed for potatoes in all the fresh produce markets.

Thabile Nkunjana, an agricultural economist for Agro-Food Chains in the Markets and Economic Research Division of Namc, earlier this month said that the supply of vegetables appeared to be irregular globally, particularly for onions.

“The consensus is that several countries that produce onions, including South Africa, have a diminished supply and this affects prices.

“For instance, the production of onions in Spain is reportedly 40% lower than it was a year ago, and supply levels are also reportedly lower in Germany, France and the US.

“The South African onion production area is also reportedly 20% smaller this year, hence the decreased supply,” Nkunjana said.

Nkunjana said this year’s reduced transitional season supply was adding to an already-existing supply issue.

“In general, dynamics of supply and demand, which fluctuate throughout the year and within individual months, frequently determine vegetable prices. Month ends typically have higher pricing compared to mid-month times due to higher demand. Although the topic of vegetable prices has only recently come to light, prices have been increasing since June. The September-October figures only highlighted an existing trend,” Nkunjana said.


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