Counter-seasonality boost for South African exporters

Erica Joubert, Head of Trade at Wesgro, looks at the more popular exports to Britain from South Africa’s Western Cape and how the area benefits from being counter-seasonal for northern hemisphere markets.

Erica Joubert, Head of Trade at Wesgro, looks at the more popular exports to Britain from South Africa’s Western Cape and how the area benefits from being counter-seasonal for northern hemisphere markets.

The United Kingdom is South Africa’s third-largest export market, totalling R12.5 billion in goods exported as of 2021 Wesgro’s recently launched Cape Trade Portal has seen early success from the UK market, especially in terms of its Agri-oriented products which Brits love. So far, over 90 000 unique users from the UK have accessed the site with wine, prepared foodstuffs, beverages and fresh produce being the most dominating sectors of Agri products on the site.

Erica Joubert Head of Trade from Wesgro –  the official tourism, trade, and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape – says, “Being counter-seasonal for northern hemisphere markets makes our fresh produce particularly attractive. UK buyers love our wines, grapes, and citrus fruit the most; these are consistently our top-selling export categories. This support has helped the Western Cape become South Africa’s Agri exporting powerhouse, accounting for 55% of the country’s agriculture exports, totalling R51, 84billion when including the positive impact of agri-processing.”

Here are some interesting insights into top Western Cape-UK Agri export trends:

  1. Wine exports on the rise: In 2021, Western Cape wine exports to the UK saw year-on-year growth of 16.52% from 2020, to now stand at R2.3B per annum.  The UK loves South African vinos; some of the most sought-after cultivars from the Western Cape globally are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Red Blends and Pinotage.
  2. Grapes came second: Grapes (fresh and dried) are the second biggest WC-UK export, totalling R2.2 billion per annum, with category growth of 15% from 2020-2021.
  3. Oranges and lemons: Citrus fruits take the third podium position, with exports (fresh or dried) equalling R1.8 billion in 2021.  South Africa is the second-largest exporter of citrus in the world, with the Western Cape responsible for the majority of these exports.

  4. Seven of the WC’s top 10 exports are from the Agri sector: Across all its export markets, citrus takes the top title, accounting for R19.5 billion in value. Wine is second, at R10.5 billion in value. Grapes; apples, pears, and quinces; other fresh fruit; fruit juices; and apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums complete the top seven.
  5. And the title for greatest growth goes to… Interestingly, demand for soft fruit like apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums showed significant growth in 2021 – up 38% from 2020. But the biggest growth came from fruit and nut preserves, which went up by a whopping 48%.

Joubert adds, “Today, the Western Cape is responsible for 95% of the nation’s wine exports – of which, UK exports totalled R2.3 billion in 2021. Similarly, we’ve seen big hits on the 858 wine products we have on the Cape Trade Portal. It’s been extremely encouraging for the Cape’s local exporters to receive such an enthusiastic response. The UK’s patronage helps their businesses to thrive.

“Export grows output: it creates new employment opportunities and drives economic growth. Empowering local businesses to grow their overseas footprint can increase sales and profits, and it also reduces their risk as they’re less reliant on their home market and more inclined to diversify their business offerings.

“By supporting the Cape Trade Portal, you’re helping WC entrepreneurs to thrive. The portal provides mentorship, training, and informational opportunities to give owners everything they need to succeed in the exporting arena. We are extremely proud of the calibre of our Cape-based exports, and, more particularly, our Agri offerings. We hope the UK continues to value these as much as we do.”

The Cape Trade Portal is a ‘matchmaking tool’, connecting UK customers with Western Cape exporters via a virtual hub with over 1 600 proudly Cape-based products and services.

Access the Cape Trade Portal here: