“Agro-processing is important because when you have an existing agricultural activity and you add value to the crops produced through agro-processing, that’s where the real income and real job opportunities lie,” former Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Rob Davies.

The “Adding value” chapter of Agribook.Digital (of which this page is a part) deals with, well, adding value to the primary agricultural product. This finished product is what the consumer wants and pays money for. Because of this, farmers are often advised to be more involved in the activities that happen beyond the farm gate.

International business environment

Local business environment

Find the diagnoses of the country’s agro-processing investment needs, constraints and opportunities in the 2018/19-2020/21 Industrial Action Policy Programme (IPAP) – see the “National strategy and government contact” heading.

  • The agricultural and agro-processing value chain currently employs around 283,000 people, contributing 20.3% to manufacturing GDP and 2.7% to total GDP.
  • SA is a net exporter of agro-processed products.
  • The South African agro-processing sector has particularly strong linkages both up- and downstream. Upstream, the sector links to agriculture across a wide variety of farming models and products. Downstream, the sector’s products are marketed across wholesale and retail chains and through a diverse array of restaurants, pubs and fast food franchises. Agro-processing is the largest single sub-sector in manufacturing, showing relatively rapid growth in sales and employment over the past 15 years.
  • The ‘organic’ link with primary agriculture makes agro-processing critical for employment creation and poverty eradication, and it presents key opportunities in the global value chains in the food and freight industries.
  • South Africa’s agro-processing sector has the potential to generate an industrial impetus that can create jobs and answer some of the macroeconomic questions such as balance of payments (BOP) generated by the current import/export gap.
  • The agro-processing value chain is central to government’s rural development and smallholder farmer development objectives.
Source: 2018/19-2020/21 Industrial Action Policy Programme (IPAP)

For the newcomer

Introduction to the General Principles of Agro-Processing:

Faced with the current economic realities, farmers worldwide are searching for new options of surviving, as well as expanding their business. One of the many opportunities to grow markets, turnover and profits, is by adding value to farm produce through further processing. Most value-added food products available to consumers have been processed in some way or other, even if the processing is as simple as cleaning produce before it is packed in plastic-or net bags. Two types of processing methods may be performed on raw materials:

  • Primary Processing: this type of processing includes the simplest of processes such as washing, peeling, chopping, ageing, the milling of wheat for flour production, and the processing of sugarcane;
  • Secondary Processing: this type of processing involves the conversion of primary processed products into more complex food products and includes procedures such as mixing, depositing, layering, extruding, drying, fortifying, fermentation, pasteurisation, clarification, heating etc
Source: Theresa Siebert in the introduction to the ARC manuals on agro-processing.

Find a list of the ARC manuals on agro-processing, crucial documents, under the “Websites & publications” heading.

The agro-processing industry consists of various sub-sectors, which include:

  • meat processing
  • dairy products
  • fruit and vegetables processing
  • grain mill products
  • sugar mills and refineries
  • wine
  • fruit juices
  • beer
  • cocoa, chocolate and sugar confectionery
  • bakery products
  • prepared animal feeds

Other food products/ingredients include starch and starch products, baby food, chips, baking powder, yeast, condiments, flavours and fragrances, mustard, vinegar, edible salt refining, tea and coffee processing and packing. Non-food products include tobacco, essential oils, biofuels, biopolymers, bioplastics, paper and paper products, wood and wood products, textiles, wearing apparel, rubber products, footwear and leather and leather products.

Government views agro-processing as a sector to be strengthened as it delivers on vital areas like job creation, exports and “raising overall economic productivity” (see “National strategy and government contact” heading). Business views agro-processing as “a high skilled, capital intensive and scale of economy business”. It welcomes government attention but lists concerns as being that interventions should not crowd out private sector investment or undermine the competitiveness of current players.

An interesting example of entrepreneurship on a fruit farm can be found at http://fruitlips.co.za. FruitLips processes fruit not exported, manufacturing jams, marmalades, chutneys etc. This offers jobs to “more than fifteen families”.

National strategy and government contact

Government has firmly identified agro-processing and its upstream sector, agriculture, as a critical driver of inclusive growth in South African economy, with very significant job creation potential. (The National Development Plan (NDP) postulates a million possible new job opportunities). The commitment to agro-processing has been repeatedly stated: in the NDP; successive iterations of the Industrial Action Policy Programmes (IPAPs); the Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP)Operation Phakisa and the Presidential 9-Point Plan (Revitalisation of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Value Chains).

Presidential Nine-Point Plan and Agro-Processing Support Scheme (APSS)

The agro-processing sector has been identified as one of the critical sectors earmarked for special attention under the Presidential Nine-Point Plan. The core issue here is to defend and expand the agricultural and agro-processing value chain as a key provider of labour-intensive growth.

Since 2009, the  Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) has supported agro-processing industries to the tune of R1.2 billion through various incentive schemes. The sector also benefitted from total investments of around R7 billion, both by multinationals and local players. The next step – as a direct response to the 9-Point Plan – was taken in 2017, with the launch of R1 billion Agro-Processing Support Scheme (APSS), aimed at further ramping up investment and value-addition across the sector.

The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 – 2020/21 identified agro-processing as a sectoral focus area and worthy of support. It diagnosed investment needs, constraints and opportunities in agro-processing. Key Action Programmes were planned in the following sectors:


  • Indigenous plants, identified as having “enormous wealth of agro-biodiversity and have the potential to contribute to improved incomes, job creation and local economic development”.
  • To identify the potential of underutilised agro-processing facilities and turn them around as viable, sustainable, job-creating agribusinesses.
  • Facilitate the development and competitiveness of the Halal industry.
  • To work with stakeholders and investors to unlock constraints in the poultry value chain that currently inhibit new investments, deeper localisation and inclusive growth.
  • Agro-Processing Export Development: Rooibos and fruit export development, and sugar industry development.


Find the document on www.thedti.gov.za.

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) Industrial Development Division (IDD) Tel: 0861 843 384 or 012 394 1409

  • IDD is a division of the dtic , responsible for providing leadership in developing industry policies and strategies that create an enabling environment for competitiveness, growth and job creation. The dtic’s Agro processing unit is located in the IDD. The unit designs and implements programmes for the development of agro-processing sector, in support of the dti’s Integrated Manufacturing Strategy and government’s microeconomic reform strategy. Agro-processing has also enjoyed support under schemes such as the Agro-processing support scheme (APSS), Enterprise Investment Programme (EIP), the Co-operative Incentive Scheme and the Manufacturing Investment Programme and the Enterprise Investment Programme (MCEP). The dti has funded agro-processing facilities and projects through entities like the Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

Find details of Government incentives at www.investmentincentives.co.za. 

Competition Commission Tel: 012 394 3332 www.compcom.co.za  The Competition Amendment Act holds major implications for directors and senior management. The Act introduces provisions to hold personally accountable, and criminally liable, individuals who cause firms to engage in cartel activity.

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) www.daff.gov.za

Details of all DALRRD directorates can be found on the website. Included amongst the important ones for this chapter are:

  • (i) Agro-processing Support Tel: 012 319 8457 / 8 DES [at] daff.gov.za Read about this DALRRD offering on the website. Key among its interests is supporting SMEs in agro-processing.
  • (ii) Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance Tel: 012 319 6020/23 Food Business Operators (i.e. producers, packers, processors, transporters, etc.) of regulated agricultural products of plant origin for export and local market can register their food business online. The electronic facility of registering Food Business Operators online will enable a process of tracing and tracking of the product in the supply chain. Find “Food Business Operator Codes” under the Food Safety and Quality Assurance pages at www.daff.gov.za.
  • (iii) Directorate: Marketing Tel: 012 319 8455
  • (iv) Directorate: Inspection Services Tel: 012 309 8702/78/60.

Read about requirements for Food Business Operators (FBOs) at http://fbo.daff.gov.za. This is a prerequisite for packhouses, processing plants, exporters, grain storage facilities, retailers and municipal markets.

National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115 www.namc.co.za

Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) Tel: 021 930 1134 www.ppecb.com

Department of Health Tel: 012 395 8799/89 www.health.gov.za  Find the “Food Control” option on the website.

  • Food premises are regulated by R962 (dated Nov 2012) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972) under the mandate of the Department of Health. Regulations relating to the labelling and advertising of foodstuffs, R146 (dated Mar 2010) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 are also under the mandate of the Department of Health and enforced by local and municipal authorities.

Associations involved

The following are associations with which the Agro-processing unit at the Department of Trade and Industry has contact:

Find other umbrella bodies on the relevant pages of Agribook.Digital.

Training and research

Systems improvements and value-add was identified as a priority area in the National Agricultural Research and Development Strategy document. That was ten years ago, and the priority remains the same.

  • ARC-Infruitec Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100 www.arc.agric.za Training courses are given in post-harvest handling of fresh fruit, fruit beverages, value adding to dried fruit, fruit processing and jam processing.
  • ARC-Agricultural Engineering Tel: 012 842 4017 www.arc.agric.za ARC-AE training and research includes on farm processing – equipment, infrastructure, publications, advice etc. Find the list of publications under heading 9.
  • The Provincial Departments of Agriculture working with the Agricultural Colleges offer a variety of value-add training courses. The following are on the list sent to this project by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture at Cedara: (i) Peach Processing (ii) Tomato Processing (iii) Peanut Processing (iv) Dairy Processing (v) Soya Processing (vi) Jam Manufacturing (vii) Health & Food Safety. Further examples would include Fort Cox College (value adding technology training), Grootfontein (meat processing), Tsolo College (baking bread, buns, scones). All offer training in marketing concepts too. Find the list of Agricultural Colleges in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter.
  • Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT) (i) Department of Consumer Sciences: food and nutrition Tel: 021 460 3431/28 dutoitl [at]cput.ac.za (ii) Food Technology Tel: 021 959 6236 www.cput.ac.za (iii) AgriFood Technology Station Tel: 021 959 6276/021 953 8615 www.cput.ac.za/ats
  • CSIR Tel: 012 841 4464 http://biomanufacturing.csir.co.za  The CSIR includes agro-processing in its activities. Feasibility studies, business planning, due diligence, etc. as well as implementation and establishment of businesses. Projects include jam production, medicinal plants, hydroponics, mussel farming, leather works and wooden products.
  • Dairy Cheret Tel: 011 314 8618 http://dairycheret.com
  • Durban University of Technology (DUT) Department of Food and Nutrition: Consumer Sciences Tel: 031 373 2322 www.dut.ac.za
  • FoodBev is the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector. Visit www.foodbev.co.za or call 011 253 7300.
  • North-West University (i) Mechanical Engineering Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Tel: 018 299 1329 www.dticoe.co.za  Services like product development provided to the food processing and “polymer and natural fibre composition” industry. Extruders and relevant equipment can be built. (ii) Consumer Sciences Tel: 018 299 2470 http://health-sciences.nwu.ac.za/consumer-sciences
  • SESTO Tel: 011 888 6099 www.sesto.co.za  SAQA accredited training provider delivering learnerships and skills programmes nationally.
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Food Science Tel: 021 808 3578 www.sun.ac.za/foodsci
  • Technology and Human Research for Industry Programme (THRIP) is a flagship research and development instrument of the dti and the National Research Foundation (NRF). Agro-processing is one of its interests. Tel: 012 481 4040.
  • University of the Free State www.ufs.ac.za (i) Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Development and Extension Tel: 051 401 3765 www.ufs.ac.za/censard  (ii) Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology Tel: 051 401 2396 www.ufs.ac.za/biotech
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences Tel: 033 260 5428 / 59 http://dietetics.ukzn.ac.za
  • University of Limpopo Limpopo Agri-Food Technology Station Tel: 015 268 2785 / 3359 www.ul.ac.za 
  • University of Pretoria www.up.ac.za (i) Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being (IFNuW) sheryl.hendriks [at] up.ac.za (ii) Centre for Nutrition Tel: 012 420 6030 andre.oelofse [at] up.ac.za (iii) Department of Consumer Science Tel: 012 420 2531 consumer.science [at] up.ac.za (iv) Department of Food Sciences Tel: 012 420 3202 food.science [at] up.ac.za
  • University of South Africa (UNISA) Department: Life and Consumer Sciences Tel: 011 471 3644 www.unisa.ac.za
  • University of Venda Department of Nutrition Tel: 015 962 8510 / 8114 www.univen.ac.za

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Companies involved


Find the details of the various associations and companies involved on the relevant agro-processing pages on Agribook.Digital. In addition, also see “Grain storage and handling” and “Consultants”. Be aware too that role players like the ARC, CSIR and Eskom also help in value added activities.

Refer to the SAAFoST website where details of a number of consultants are given. Visit www.saafost.org.za.

Also find role players at www.supermarket.co.za and www.thebuyersguide.co.za.



Finances and services

  • Agri Bio Equipment and Solutions Tel: 021 979 3180 www.agribio.co.za
  • CFAM Technologies (Pty) Ltd Tel: 018 285 1031 www.cfam.co.za and www.extruafrica.org.za CFAM is leading supplier of Extrusion plants in Southern Africa. We can assist you with the following: (i) extruded product formulation and development in our Extrusion R&D Centre – for example porridges, snacks, cereals, shakes, etc (ii) design and supply of complete extrusion plant that will produce the same products as made in the R&D Centre (iii) financial analysis models of the plant to do business case development (iv) training and mentoring of plant personnel and operators (v) ongoing maintenance and support to ensure sustainable operation of the plant.
  • Coldsure Distribution Services Tel: 016 933 8679 www.coldsure.co.za
  • DMG Events Tel: 011 783 7250 www.exhibitionsafrica.com Africa’s Big Seven, which happens at Midrand, “brings together hundreds of global farm to fork suppliers with motivated buyers from each segment of the buying community”.
  • EVN Africa Consulting Services Tel: 015 291 2020 / 012 991 5509 www.evn.co.za/community-agriculture.php  Food processing plants are one of its offerings
  • GPB Consulting Tel: 021 852 7811 www.consultgpb.co.za
  • Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Food, Beverages & Agro Industries Tel: 011 269 3000 www.idc.co.za Support is given mainly to horticultural activities, particularly those with a processing element.
  • Interpaarl Logistics Tel: 021 862 0445 www.interpaarllogistics.co.za
  • MBB Consulting Engineers www.mbb.co.za Design and construction of agro-processing facilities. Branches countrywide.
  • National Cleaner Production Centre Tel: 012 841 3772 http://ncpc.co.za Enables lower production costs through reduced energy and water usage, and waste management
  • SEDA Alfred Nzo Agro Manufacturing Incubator (SANAMI) Tel: 039 254 5181 www.seda.org.za
  • Urban-Econ Development Economists Tel: 012 342 8686 http://urban-econ.com Develops agro-processing strategies
  • Van Der Vyver Transport Tel: 021 981 0300 http://vdvtransport.co.za Refrigerated and general transporter



Equipment and ingredients



JSE-listed and general


Other companies listed on the JSE, not specifically agro-processing but nonetheless relevant to this publication include Kaap Agri, Mondi, Omnia, SASOL, Barloworld, Bell Equipment and the banks. Also relevant here are the many former co-ops, now companies, like AFGRI, GWK etc. (GWK has its own “GWK Farm Foods” division. See www.gwk.co.za/Farm-foods). Find their details on the “Agribusinesses” page.

Websites and publications

Visit the websites and documents listed earlier in this chapter. Contact the ARC-AE at 012 842 4000 / 17 for the many publications dealing with on-farm processing. These include:

  • Agro-processing of Field Crops (chilli, bell peppers, tomatoes)
  • Agro-processing of Marine Foods
  • Agro-processing of Poultry (chicken and turkey)
  • Oil processing in South Africa
  • Oil seed processing using the ram press
  • The extraction of essential oils from herbaceous materials by steam distillation
  • Agro-processing of Citrus Fruit (grapefruit, lemons, oranges)
  • Agro-processing of Dairy (butter, cream, buttermilk, cheese, yoghurt, milk and milk powder)
  • Agro-processing of Meat Products (Russians, tongue, hamburger patties, polony, frankfurters, bacon, ham, sausages)
  • Agro-processing of Berries, Volume 1 (blackberries, blackcurrant, blueberries, Cape gooseberries, cherries)
  • Agro-processing of Berries, Volume 2 (gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries)
  • Agro-processing of Cereal Crops Volume 1 (maize, oats, rice)
  • Agro-processing of Cereal Crops Volume 2 (sorghum, wheat)
  • Agro-processing of Cereal Crops Volume 3 (barley, sesame, poppy seed, rye)
  • Agro-processing of Cucurbits (butternut, cucumber, pumpkin, sweet melon, watermelon, baby marrow)
  • Agro-processing of Deciduous Fruit (apples, apricots, grapes, pears, plums, peaches, figs)
  • Agro-processing of Olives and Legumes (green peas, green beans, cowpeas, lentils, olives, peanuts, mushrooms)
  • Agro-processing subtropical fruit (avocado, bananas, figs, guava, kiwifruit, litchi, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple)
  • Agro-processing of Oil Seeds (soy beans, sunflower)
  • Agro-processing of Root Crops (asparagus, beetroot, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potato)
  • Agro-processing of Textile Crops (cotton, flax, hemp, sisal)
  • Agro-processing of Industrial Crops (chicory, coffee, sugar cane, tea)
  • Agro-processing of Herbs and Spices (cinnamon, paprika, jojoba, parsley)
  • Agro-processing of Legumes (cowpeas, beans, green beans, lentils, green peas, peanuts)
  • General food processing methods
  • Agro-processing of snack foods and confectionary
  • Manual on small-scale food processing (achar, jam, etc).


Find An easy guide for food entrepreneurs by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture at http://www.elsenburg.com/node/1264/. It is also available in Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

Find presentations given at the  International Finance Corporation (IFC)/Agbiz Water Efficiency in Agri-processing Workshop (2019, March 25) at https://agbiz.co.za/news/water-efficiency-workshop.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands study The Current State of Fruit & Vegetable Agro-Processing in South Africa (February 2019) can be found at https://agbiz.co.za/uploads/AgbizNews19/190215_Current-state-of-agro-processing-in%20SA.pdf

Find the WWF SA report “Agri-Food Systems: Facts and Futures” (February 2019) at www.wwf.org.za/report/agrifood_systems

Neves, M.F. 2017. Future of The Food Business: The FACTS The IMPACTS The ACTS. 2nd Edition. New Jersey: World Scientific. Visit www.favaneves.org.

The Bureau for Food & Agricultural Policy (BFAP) annual outlook includes processing in its baseline. Find the latest document at www.bfap.co.za.

On the internet, find “Structural transformation in agriculture and agro-processing value chains” (April 2018) – done by the then Department of Trade and Industry, Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED), and the University of Johannesburg – which looks at agro-processing with specific reference to the fruit, sugar and dairy value chains. An earlier report (September 2016) by CCRED is the excellent “Competition, barriers to entry and inclusive growth: Agro-processing”. That report focused on poultry, dairy and milling.

Paremoer,T. 2016. POLICY BRIEF: Barriers to entry and inclusive growth: policy recommendations for agro-processing. The paper’s conclusion is: “Focusing on facilitating entry at one discrete level of the value chain will likely fail as it will miss the binding competition bottlenecks elsewhere. Ultimately, addressing barriers to entry requires complementary measures across industrial policies, development finance and competition”.

Mkhathini, K & Zuu, S. 2015. Postharvest food drying technique using a solar tunnel dryer. Research & Technology Bulletin. KZNDARD. Find the document on www.kzndard.gov.za.

The Buyer’s Guide is an annual directory listing the providers of all processing aids, flavours, ingredients, antimicrobial agents, colorants, curing agents etc, food and beverage processing equipment – and more. Visit www.thebuyersguide.co.za.

Companies which sell processing equipment often have manuals and publications explaining the technology and/ or business opportunities involved.

Find the Buyers Guide at www.supermarket.co.za.

www.foodfocus.co.za – “Providing guidance & information for the food industry”.

Evans, J.A. 2008. Frozen Food Science & Technology. Indianapolis, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.


Some articles

Food & Beverage Reporter subscribers have access to agro-processing articles and an online, searchable directory. Visit www.fbreporter.com.

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