Market Research

Market Research

The Agbiz Agribusiness Research desk, headed by agriculture economist Wandile Sihlobo, offers role players access to up to date insights.

Read latest and previous updates:

Year Publication
24/08/2020 SA food producer price inflation decelerates to 4.7% y/y
The annual food producer price inflation decelerated to 4.7% y/y in June 2017, from 5.7% y/y in May 2017. This shows the benefits of the higher agricultural output this year following good summer rainfall across the country.
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25/01/2018 SA food producer price inflation ticked up slightly to 1.0% y/y
The headline food producer price inflation for December 2017 edged up slightly to 1.0% y/y from 0.9% y/y in the previous month. Similarly to November, meat and dairy products continued to be the key drivers of the uptick. Meanwhile, producer price inflation for foods such as starches, sugar, fruits and vegetables slowed on a monthly basis. Apart from higher live animals’ prices, agricultural commodity prices are still relatively low, which is keeping the food producer price inflation at lower levels - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist.
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30/11/2017 SA food products price inflation decelerates to 0.4% y/y
After slowing to 1.3% y/y in September 2017, the headline food products’ price inflation further decelerated to 0.4% last month. This reflects the benefits of a large harvest in the 2016/17 production season, particularly grain related products.
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Year Publication
24/05/2021 What to make of South Africa's recent consumer food price inflation data?
Statistics South Africa recently reported much higher figures for consumer food price inflation than some had expected. In April 2021, the country's consumer food prices were at 6,7% year-on-year, the highest level since July 2017. The different thing about 2017 is that it was a year that followed a drought period – so there were still pass-throughs of higher grain prices from the previous poor season. Notably, livestock farmers were restocking their herds after the devastation caused by the drought. This meant that there was less slaughtering activity and meat prices rose, driving the uptick on overall consumer food price inflation, which for July 2017 was reported at 6,9% year-on-year. But we are far from that reality this time around. We have had two consecutive favourable agricultural seasons, characterized by higher rainfall, which supported crop yields and the livestock industry.
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26/04/2021 SA consumer food price inflation lifted marginally in March 2021
Consumer food price inflation accelerated to 5,9% y/y in March 2021 from 5,4% y/y in the previous month. The product prices underpinning the uptick were mainly bread and cereals; fish; milk, eggs and cheese; and oils and fats. The increase in prices of these products is unsurprising and reflects the elevated farm-level prices we observed at the end of 2020 and into 2021. Typically, the passthrough from the farm level to the retail level for products such as grains is three months.
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29/03/2021 SA consumer food price inflation decelerates further in February 2021
After softening from 6,2% y/y in December 2020 to 5,6 % y/y in January 2021, South Africa's consumer food price inflation decelerated further to 5,4% y/y in February. The primary products underpinning this deceleration in price inflation are meat, fruit, vegetables, and bread and cereals. Importantly, this is in line with the price trends in agricultural commodity prices, which, while still elevated, are at lower levels than the corresponding period in 2020.
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18/02/2021 SA food price inflation decelerates in January 2021
South Africa's food price inflation softened to 5,6% y/y in January 2021, from 6,2% y/y in the previous month. The deceleration was in most product prices in the food basket except for bread and cereals, which accelerated from the levels seen in December 2020. Nevertheless, this was overshadowed by the slowing price inflation in meat; fish; milk, eggs and cheese; fruit; and vegetables.
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24/08/2020 SA food price inflation decelerates to the lowest level in 22 months
Food inflation continued to decelerate driven by lower agricultural commodity prices. In September 2017, the overall food price inflation eased to 5.4%, which is the lowest since November 2015. With that said, the picture remains mixed within the food basket. Meat price inflation remains stickier primarily due to base effects, as well as spreading avian influenza. Livestock restocking process, which has been the key driver of meat price inflation for some time is somewhat normalising, as abattoir’s data show an uptick in monthly slaughtering activity. Given the weight of poultry in the overall food price inflation, the spreading avian influenza will remain a key upside risk to food inflation over the foreseeable future.
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29/04/2020 An uptick in SA food price inflation in March 2020
South Africa’s food price inflation accelerated to 4.4% y/y in March 2020, from 4.2% y/y in the previous month. This uptick was mainly underpinned by relative price rises of meat; milk, eggs and cheese; and fruit. Meanwhile, other products decelerated and some remained roughly unchanged. While there are still unknowns about the definite impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture and the food sector, we are still convinced that what will matter the most for the direction of food price inflation this year are developments in the grains, meat markets and fruit. These three food categories account for nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s food price inflation basket.
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18/03/2020 Slight uptick in SA food price inflation in February 2020
The data released this morning by Statistics South Africa shows that the country’s food price inflation accelerated to 4.2% in February 2020, from 3.7% y/y in the previous month. This uptick was mainly underpinned by relative price rises of meat; milk, eggs and cheese; oils and fats; and vegetables. Still, this doesn’t change our view that what will matter the most for the direction of food price inflation this year are developments in the grains, meat markets and fruit. These three food categories account for nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s food price inflation basket.
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17/04/2019 SA food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation accelerated marginally in March 2019
While South Africa’s headline food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation accelerated to 3.1% in March 2019 from 2.9% in the previous month, the food category remained unchanged at 2.3% for the third consecutive months, as shown in Figure 1. This is on the back of lower meat prices, which continued to offset higher prices of grain-related products. However, this is a trend that is likely to change in the coming months as underlying data in the meat industry points to potential price increases in the near term. As a result, we still think South Africa’s food and non-alcoholic beverages price inflation could average about 5% y/y in 2019.
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20/02/2019 SA food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation unchanged in January 2019
South Africa’s food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation remained unchanged in January 2019 at 3.0% y/y. But we think going forward there will be upside pressures which will emanate from a general increase in agricultural commodity prices, albeit having slowed somewhat from levels seen at the start of the year. The increases will, however, not be steep due to expectations of a decline in meat prices. We think South Africa’s food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation could average about 5% y/y in 2019.
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12/12/2018 SA food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation unchanged in November 2018
South Africa’s food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation has bottomed out and will begin an upward cycle in the coming months supported by an increase in agricultural commodities prices. But the headline number will probably increase marginally as we expect the uptick in cattle and sheep slaughtering activity to contain meat prices at fairly lower levels in the near term, and that in turn, will influence the overall increase.
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22/08/2018 SA food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation unchanged
South Africa’s food and non-alcoholic beverages price inflation remain unchanged for a third consecutive month, at 3.4% y/y in July 2018. Similar to the previous months,most food products inflation within the basket generally softened due to lower agricultural commodity prices, which in turn, were a reflection of available large supplies.The deceleration in meat price inflation was largely underpinned by lower pork prices. The only food category that showed a notable uptick was milk, eggs and cheese, which was partly due to the effects of avian influenza in South Africa’s egg-laying flock.
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24/01/2018 South Africa’s food inflation accelerates
Food inflation for December 2017 was in line with our expectation at 4.9% y/y, from 5.2% in November 2017. This is reflective of the current lower agricultural commodity prices, which in turn, have been pressured by a large harvest from the 2016/17 production season. We expect this trend to persist in the short term cushioned by the relatively large stock from the previous season, despite the fears of dryness in the western parts of the country.
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13/12/2017 SA food price inflation continues to decelerate
Food inflation decelerated to 5.2% y/y last month, from 5.3% y/y in October 2017. Most food products price inflation within the basket continued to slow, reflecting the recent good harvest of grains and oilseeds. Moreover, meat price inflation, which has been somewhat stickier in the past few months, also decelerated due to an uptick in livestock slaughtering activity. Amongst products on the upside; milk, eggs and cheese price inflation increased by one percentage point from the previous month. This is partially on the back of the damage caused by the Avian Influenza in the poultry industry.
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22/11/2017 SA food price inflation decelerates
Food inflation slowed to 5.3% y/y in October 2017, from 5.4% y/y in the previous month. This is the lowest level in 23-months, thanks to lower agricultural commodity prices. Most food product price inflation remain at relatively lower levels, with the exception of meat which is still at double digits, at 15.5% y/y last month. While fears of avian influenza have not completely dissipated, the impact has largely been on egg layers. Broilers were roughly 8% of the birds culled thus far. The cattle restocking process is also proving to be slower than we initially anticipated.
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20/09/2017 SA food inflation falls to the lowest level in 21 months
Food inflation decelerated to 5.7% y/y in August 2017, from 6.8% y/y in the previous month. This is the lowest levels since November 2015 - thanks to good summer rain, which led to a higher agricultural output. While we expect further moderation in the next few months, the picture of the food basket remains mixed. All food products have decelerated, with the exception of meat which remains stickier, recording 15.0% y/y in August 2017, which is the highest level since December 2011.
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23/08/2017 SA food inflation falls marginally to 6.8%, but meat remains a key risk
Food inflation decelerated to 6.8% y/y in July 2017, from 6.9% y/y in the previous month. This mirrors the benefits of the higher agricultural output following good summer rainfall across the country. Although we expect further moderation in the next few months, the picture of the food basket is mixed. Most food products have decelerated, with the exception of meat which is proving stickier than expected, recording 14.4% y/y in July, which is the highest level since December 2011.
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19/07/2017 SA food inflation unchanged at 6.9%
Last month’s food inflation figures show the significance of meat within the food basket. All products decelerated from the previous month’s levels with the exception of meat which remained elevated and therefore, sustaining food inflation at 6.9%. The uptick in meat inflation mirrors the remaining effects of the 2015-16 El Niño induced drought in the livestock sector. As farmers continued to restock their herds, the slaughtering activity eased a bit with that resulting in the increase in meat prices.
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24/06/2017 South Africa’s annual food inflation falls to the lowest level in 18 months
SA’s annual food inflation falls to the lowest level in 18 months Last month’s deceleration in food inflation, to 6.7% y/y, means that South Africa’s food prices are at the lowest levels in 18 months. This is a reflection of the benefits of higher agricultural output this year following good weather conditions across the country. We think that there is still room for further, but moderate deceleration in the next few months.
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21/06/2017 Meat drives up SA’s food inflation
Last month’s slight uptick in South Africa’s food inflation mirrors the tail-end effects of the 2015-16 El Niño induced drought in the livestock sector. As farmers continued to restock their herds, the slaughtering activity eased a bit with that resulting in the increase in meat prices . However,the expected recovery in the poultry sector could soften the pace of an increase in overall meat inflation over the coming months.
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19/04/2017 South Africa’s annual food inflation falls to the lowest level in 14 months
SA’s annual food inflation falls to the lowest level in 14 months Although there are lag effects between the decline in agricultural commodity prices and retail food prices, the benefits of the uptick in agricultural production are already reflected in food prices. South Africa’s annual food and beverages inflation fell to 8.7% year-on-year in March 2017, which is the lowest level in 14 months.
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22/03/2017 South Africa’s annual food inflation fell below 10% y/y
South Africa’s annual food and beverages inflation fell below 10% year-on-year for the first time since March 2016. Given the current bearish trends in agricultural commodity prices, this declining path in food inflation is likely to prevail throughout the year.
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15/02/2017 South Africa’s food inflation decelerates
The recent food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation data suggest that we might have already reached the peak in food inflation and the coming months could show sideways to a downward trend. Data released this morning showed that South Africa’s food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation eased at 11.4% year-on-year (y/y) in January 2017 from 11.7% in December 2016. With non-alcoholic beverages aside, food inflation eased at 11.8% y/y in January 2017 from 12% y/y in December 2016
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18/01/2017 South Africa’s food inflation accelerates 3
Recent Consumer Price Index data shows that food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation accelerated to 11.7% year-on-year (y/y) in December 2016 from 11.6% in November 2016 (with non-alcoholic beverages aside, food inflation increased to 12% y/y in December 2016 from 11.8% y/y in November 2016).
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Year Publication
15/06/2021 SA tractor and harvester sales remained robust in May 2021
We continue to observe robust activity in South Africa's agricultural machinery market, and this optimism has been underway since May 2020. Last week, the figures released by the South African Agricultural Machinery Association show that tractor and harvester sales were each up by 13% y/y in May 2021, with 518 and 35 units sold, respectively. As we indicated last month, the improved farmers' finances have supported the sale. This is on the back of the large harvest in 2019/20, prospects for yet another good agricultural season in 2020/21, and higher commodities prices. The relatively stronger exchange rate has also been a positive buffer for the imported agricultural machinery.
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11/05/2021 Large agricultural harvest and higher commodity prices continue to boost tractors and harvesters’ sales
South Africa's agricultural machinery sales have remained on a positive footing since May 2020. The figures released by the South African Agricultural Machinery Association last week show that tractors' and harvesters' sales were up by 23% y/y and 115% y/y in April 2021, with 540 and 40 units sold, respectively. Improved farmers' finances have supported the sale. This is on the back of the large harvest in 2019/20, prospects for yet another good agricultural season in 2020/21, and higher commodities prices. The relatively stronger exchange rate has also been a positive buffer for the imported agricultural machinery.<br>
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12/04/2021 South Africa's agricultural machinery sales remained on a solid footing in March 2021
The growth in South Africa's agricultural fortunes has benefited the allied industries. This is true in the agricultural machinery sales, which have been on a positive footing for a while. The sale has been supported by improved farmers' finances on the back of the large harvest in 2019/20 and prospects for yet another good agricultural season in 2020/21. The figures released by the South African Agricultural Machinery Association last week show that tractors and combine harvesters' sales were up by 30% y/y and 4% y/y in March 2021, with 601 and 27 units sold respectively.
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08/03/2021 South Africa's tractor sales remain on a positive footing
After a solid start of the year with tractor sales up by 28% year on year (y/y), with 445 units sold in January 2021, this positive momentum continued in February, with tractor sales up again 28% y/y, with 648 units sold (see Exhibit 1). These strong sales continue the 2020 positive activity where the tractor sales amounted to 5 738 units, up by 9% from 2019. The underpinning driver is the slightly improved farmers' finances following higher agricultural output in 2020, coupled with relatively higher commodity prices.
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08/02/2021 Solid start of the year for South Africa's agricultural machinery sales
South Africa's agricultural machinery sales have had a solid start to the year, with tractor sales up by 28% year on year with 445 units sold in January 2021. The combine harvester sales in the same month were at the same levels as in 2020, with five units sold. These strong sales are somewhat a continuation of the 2020 activity where the tractor sales amounted to 5 738 units, up by 9% from 2019, with combine harvester sales up by 23% from the same year, amounting to 184 units. The underpinning driver is the slightly improved farmers' finances following higher agricultural output in 2020, coupled with relatively higher commodity prices.
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09/10/2020 SA agriculture machinery sales remained on a firm footing in October 2020
South Africa’s agricultural machinery sales remained solid in October 2020. Tractor and combine harvester sales were up by 37% y/y and 136% y/y, with 789 units and 26 units sold, respectively. The tractor sales were boosted, to a certain extent, by improved farmers’ financial position following a large summer grains harvest in the 2019/20 production season, combined with higher commodity prices. South Africa’s 2019/20 maize, sunflower seed, and soybeans production was up 37% y/y, 16% y/y and 8% y/y, estimated at 15.4 million tonnes, 785 910 tonnes and 1.3 million tonnes, respectively<br>
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12/06/2020 SA agricultural machinery sales up notably in May 2020
South Africa’s agriculture and allied industries have thus far not been as hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as other sectors of the economy. The case in point is the tractor and combine harvester sales, which were up 19% and 15%, respectively, year on year in May 2020, with 432 units and 31 units sold. Primarily, the classification of the agricultural sector and its value chains to operate during the lockdown period as part of essential services was a key catalyst to sustaining the sales last month.
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09/03/2020 SA tractor sales remained subdued in February 2020
After falling to the lowest monthly level in six years in January 2020, South Africa’s tractor sales recovered by 46% m/m in February 2020 to 485 units. While encouraging, this is still 8% lower than the corresponding period in 2019.
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03/11/2019 Recovery in agricultural machinery sales speaks to increased plantings
South Africa’s agricultural machinery sales data confirms the Crop Estimates Committee’s view of increased summer grain and oilseed plantings between January and February 2019 in the western parts of the country.
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05/07/2019 A further decline in SA agricultural machinery sales
The South African agricultural machinery sales painted a slightly negative picture in April 2019. Tractor sales were down by 6% y/y and combine harvesters down by 21% y/y, both exceeded our expectations of a 3% respective decline.
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02/07/2019 outh Africa’s agricultural machinery industry experienced a rough start of the year with tractor and harvester sales down by 26% y/y and 50% y/y in January 2019
While we didn’t anticipate the magnitude of a decline in sales, the trend is not surprising as some farmers made notable purchases of equipment in the past few months, and also the fact that the 2018/19 summer crop production season has not been favourable due to dryness in the western parts of the country. In the near term, we don’t expect any recovery in sales as production prospects remain bleak for major summer grains and oilseeds.
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15/01/2019 SA agricultural machinery sales increased in 2018, but 2019 might show a decline
South Africa’s tractor sales were up by 4% y/y in December 2018, with 434 units sold. This came as a surprise for two reasons. First, a large part of the summer grain and oilseed-growing areas experienced dryness in the months leading to December which led to a delay in planting in the western areas of South Africa. Second, December 2018 had the highest sales figure for this particular month in a dataset starting from 2014, despite the fact that there were already robust sales in the preceding months, totalling 6 246 units, 4% higher than the first 11 months of 2017
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11/12/2018 SA tractor sales reach highest level since October 2014
October is traditionally a good month for South African tractor sales as summer grain and oilseed farmers are typically preparing for the planting process. This year did not disappoint, the sales reached 817 units, which is highest levels since October 2014. South Africa’s tractor sales for the first 10 months of this year amounted to 5 818 units, which is 9% higher than the corresponding period last year. The combine harvester sales also rebounded to 29 units in October 2018, which is double the previous month’s sales. This was mainly underpinned by the ongoing winter crop harvest process.
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12/11/2018 South Africa’s agricultural machinery sales slow in November 2018
The decline in South Africa’s tractor and combine harvesters sales to 428 and 9 units, respectively, in November 2018 comes as no surprise as most farmers bought some equipment in the past couple of months. This is evident from South Africa’s tractor sales for the first 11 months of this year, which amounted to 6 246 units, up by 4% higher than the corresponding period last year. Over the same period, the combine harvester sales amounted to 194 units, up by a percentage point from the first 11 months of 2017. While the annual uptick in agricultural machinery sales signals the potential for increased production in the sector, especially in the case of tractor sales for the year so far, the drier weather conditions in most parts of the country have stalled planting, and have raised concerns about the 2018/19 grains and oilseeds harvest.
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10/11/2018 Solid recovery in South African tractor sales in September 2018
After experiencing a double-digit decline in August 2018 due to delayed harvest, amongst other factors, South Africa tractor sales recovered by 11% y/y in September 2018, with 612 units sold (Figure 1). This somewhat signals farmers’ readiness for the 2018/19 summer crop production season which commenced this month, although planting activity hasn’t progressed much thus far. Broadly speaking, this is an encouraging reading as we continue to monitor the investment path in the South African agricultural sector following a slowdown in the Agribusiness Confidence Index in the third quarter due to continued uncertainty underpinned by the current land policy reform proposal, amongst other issues..
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09/11/2018 South African tractor sales fell by 18% y/y in August 2018
Following a solid positive growth over the past five months, South African tractor sales fell by 18% y/y last month, with 487 units sold. This decline, which far exceeds our expectations of a 5% y/y drop, was partially underpinned by delayed summer grain harvesting activity which partially strained farmers’ cash flows.
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01/11/2018 South African tractor sales grew by 19% y/y in December 2017
South African tractor sales expanded by 19% y/y in December 2017, with 417 units sold. However, this was down by 26% when compared to the previous month, which mirrors a slowdown in field activity as summer crop planting was almost complete in most areas.
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02/08/2018 South African tractor sales for January up 10% y/y
After the solid performance of 19% y/y increase in December 2017, the South African tractor sales were again up by 10% y/y in January 2018, with 527 units sold. This was somewhat surprising given that the area planted with summer crops declined in the 2017/18 production year.
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08/06/2018 South African tractor sales grew by 5% y/y in July 2018
The South African tractor sales continued to rise in July, albeit at a slower pace than the previous month, up by 5% y/y with 525 units sold. While lower than our expectations of 578 units, this is the highest tractor sales figure for the corresponding month since 2015. In the same period, the harvester sales declined by 8% y/y, with 12 units sold.
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14/03/2018 South African tractor sales for February 2018 fell by 12% y/y
Subsequent to a solid 10% y/y increase in January 2018, the South African tractor sales fell by 12% y/y last month, with 595 units sold. While February is typically one of the months with the highest tractor sales, just before the end of the financial year, this time around most purchases occurred in January, which explains the softening in last month’s activity.
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Year Publication
01/06/2021 SA agricultural employment down 8% y/y in Q1, 2021
South Africa's agricultural sector is in its second consecutive year of good performance supported by favourable rainfall and expansion in plantings. In 2020, the sector's gross value added expanded by 13,1% y/y, and this year will likely also be another year of good performance. While we expect better crop harvests than in 2020, the expansion could be 5% y/y because last year’s base is already quite strong. Yet, the agricultural jobs data continue to disappoint. In the first quarter of 2021, South Africa's agricultural jobs were down by 8% y/y, with 792 000 people employed. This is the lowest level since 2014, which was a drought year. But we are not in a drought season at the moment. The decline in jobs seems to be concentrated within industries affected by various regulations in the lockdown period, such as the horticulture (wine grapes) and game industries.
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24/02/2021 SA agricultural employment down 8% y/y in Q4, 2020
Although South Africa's agricultural economy performed robustly in 2020, possibly grew by between 10-13%, according to our and Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy estimates, employment numbers remain disappointing. The data released by Statistics South Africa this morning shows that South Africa's primary agricultural jobs were down 8% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2020, with 810 209 people employed. There was a decline in employment across most provinces except for the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, which registered job gains from the last quarter of 2019. The most considerable headcount losses were in the Western Cape, amounting to about 51 000 below 2019. KwaZulu-Natal followed this, with jobs down by 21 000 compared to the last quarter of 2019.
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01/12/2020 SA agricultural employment held up in Q3, 2020, but there are disparities across provinces
<span style="font-family: arial; font-size: medium;">South Africa’s primary agricultural employment in the third quarter of the year improved by 1% from the previous quarter to 807 882. This slight quarterly recovery corresponds with the reopening of the economy and certain agricultural commodities during that period. This is important because while the majority of agriculture remained operational since the start of the lockdown period, the sector could not entirely avoid job losses as demand for some products in the sector was somewhat disrupted. When compared to the corresponding period in 2019, employment in this sector was down by 8%.</span>
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08/09/2020 SA agricultural jobs decline by 5% y/y in Q2, 2020
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey data for the second quarter of 2020 showed that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment declined by 5% (or 43 029 jobs) from the corresponding period last year to 799 033. This is unsurprising as the social-distancing regulations introduced at the end of March 2020, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, meant that farmers and agribusiness were not able to increase employment, especially of seasonal labour in the same way they would have in the absence of the pandemic, in years of an agricultural bumper harvest as in 2019/20 season. Also, the mild decline in employment confirms our anticipation that farmers might have kept most of the labour force that was already on farms in the first quarter to assist with the harvesting process of horticulture and field crops.
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11/02/2020 SA agriculture jobs up marginally in Q4, 2019
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey data for the fourth quarter of 2019 show that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment increased by 4.2% (or 36 000 jobs) from the corresponding period last year to 885 000. The notable job gains were mainly in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo. This was largely in the horticulture, field crops and livestock subsectors. These activities, however, were not evenly spread across all provinces. We believe that the Western Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal job gains were mainly in horticulture and field crops (specifically winter crops). While the slight improvement in the livestock subsector employment could be in the Free State. Other provinces, namely the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga experienced a reduction in agricultural employment over the observed period. But this was overshadowed by the improvement in the aforementioned provinces, hence, on balance, South Africa’s primary agriculture sector registered employment net gains from the corresponding period in 2018.
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30/07/2019 What’s needed for SA agriculture to boost jobs?
The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey data (Q2: 2019) show that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment fell by 0.2% from the corresponding period last year to 842 000 (Figure 1). The subsectors that faced a notable reduction were mainly field crops, the game industry and forestry. In the case of field crops, the reduction in employment was unsurprising following a reduction in activity in the fields on the back of a poor harvest in the 2018/19 season, all of which is underpinned by unfavourable weather conditions earlier in the season. From a regional perspective, a notable decline in employment was recorded in the Northern Cape, Free State and Limpopo, whilst other provinces saw a marginal uptick (Figure 2).
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14/05/2019 Only an increase in area farmed would notably induce employment in SA agriculture
The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey data (Q1: 2019) show that South Africa’s primary agricultural employment fell by 1% from the corresponding period last year to 837 000 (Figure 1). The subsectors that faced a notable reduction were field crops, livestock and forestry, partly due to a reduction in area plantings on the back of unfavourable weather conditions in the case of field crops. From a regional perspective, the provinces that faced a notable decline were the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga (Figure 2). Meanwhile, other provinces saw a marginal uptick. While the first quarter agricultural employment data does not bring much excitement, it is by no means an underperformance if we compare it to the average five-year employment of 829 000.
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12/02/2019 Slight improvement in SA agricultural jobs
South Africa’s primary agricultural employment improved marginally to 849 000 jobs in the last quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter. Although this data is encouraging in a climate where South Africa is exploring strategies that could unlock job creation in the agricultural sector, the country is still far behind its target of creating a million agricultural jobs by 2030 as envisaged in the National Development Plan. What's more, if the underutilised land in the former homelands and other parts of the country are not brought into full production with a key focus on labour-intensive sub-sectors, notable job creation in South Africa’s agriculture will not materialise. Fortunately, the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) signalled a positive message on this.
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30/10/2018 SA agricultural employment up in Q3, but far from government target
The benefits of improvements in the Western Cape’s weather conditions are evident in the third quarter agricultural jobs data, which boosted the overall sectoral employment by 3% y/y to 842 000 jobs. The other provinces that made a notable contribution were Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo, through the increased activity in the field crops and livestock subsectors. While this is encouraging in a climate where South Africa is exploring strategies that could unlock job creation in the agricultural sector, the country is still far behind its target of creating a million agricultural jobs by 2030 as envisaged in the National Development Plan. What's more, if the underutilised land in the former homelands and other parts of the country are not brought into full production with a key focus on labour intensive crops, notable job creation in agriculture will remain a pipedream.
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31/07/2018 SA agricultural employment up by 1% y/yin Q2, 2018
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa showed a percentage point annual increase in agricultural employment in the second quarter of this year to 843 000 jobs (Figure1).This was supported by improvement in employment in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape,Limpopo and the Northern Cape. This is underpinned by increased activity in the grain and horticultural fields during the harvesting period. Although the improvement in agricultural jobs is an encouraging development,it is worth noting that South Africa is still far behind its target of creating a million agricultural jobs by 2030 as envisaged in the National Development Plan.
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13/02/2018 SA agricultural employment down by 8% y/y in Q4, 2017
After experiencing a decline in employment in the first three quarters of 2017, South Africa’s agricultural sector recorded a 5% q/q rebound in employment in the fourth quarter to 849 000 jobs. This quarterly increase was mainly in field crops, horticulture and livestock sub-sectors. The provinces driving it were the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. Overall, while the quarterly uptick is encouraging, agricultural employment is still down when compared to the corresponding period the previous year.
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Year Publication
15/06/2021 SA’s agriculture in good shape despite a quarterly blip
The GDP data for the first quarter which shows that SA’s agricultural output unexpectedly contracted by 3.2% quarter on quarter on a seasonally adjusted and annualised basis should not be of lasting concern. Stats SA attributes the underperformance to “lower production of field crops and animal products”. But this is a temporary blip and shouldn’t be regarded as a worse season than the robust 2020. Also, important to highlight is that on a year-on-year basis, the agricultural gross value added expanded strongly by 7,5%. The sector is set for one of the best years on record, and such improvements should be reflected in the data in the coming quarters.
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08/09/2020 SA farm economy on a firm footing
South Africa’s agricultural sector was the only shining light in the second quarter of this year. The sector’s gross value-added expanded by 15.1% q/q on a seasonally adjusted and annualised basis following an expansion of 27.8% q/q in the first quarter. This is, in part, because most of the sector was classified as essential and didn’t close down during the strict lockdown period, whose effect extended to the second quarter. Most importantly it is due to the fact that this is a recovery year in agricultural output across all subsectors (field crops, horticulture and livestock) following prolonged periods of drought, and a surge in exports (supported by the weak exchange rate). These were also the key drivers of the expansion in the first quarter of the year.
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03/03/2020 SA farm economy to recover in 2020
South Africa’s farming economy was not in good shape in 2019. This is clear from the agricultural GDP data released this morning by Statistics South Africa. The data show a 6.9% year-on-year contraction for 2019, which is a second consecutive year of contraction in South Africa’s farm economy. While worse than our initial expectations of a 4.0% y/y contraction, this is unsurprising. The output of various crops and horticulture produce declined notably in 2019 because of the drought, while the livestock was negatively affected by the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.
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03/09/2019 SA agricultural economy contracted in Q2, 2019
Although South Africa’s economy has recovered from the previous quarter’s economic performance with a 3.1% quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted growth rate (q/q saar), agriculture did not contribute to the improvement. After a strong contraction (16.8% -- revised numbers) during the first quarter of 2019, we were optimistic that things would turn around for South African agriculture. We hoped that base effects coupled with improved horticulture production would trigger a recovery for the sector. However, we were wrong.
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04/06/2019 South African agricultural fortunes shrink in Q1, 2019
South Africa’s agricultural economy started the year on a bad footing, contracting by 13.2% on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualised rate (q/q saar). This came as a surprise as we expected a positive reading on the back of improvement in some horticultural subsectors, and the winter crops harvest. At the heart of it though, the contraction is in line with the numbers that are coming out of key horticultural industries that harvested during the first quarter of the year.
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04/12/2018 South African Agricultural Economy Recovers in Q3, 2018
After entering a technical recession in the second quarter of the year, the South African agricultural economy recovered in the third quarter, boosted by higher production of horticulture and animal products. Within the horticultural subsector, the most notable performer was the citrus industry which has thus far exported a record 2 million tonnes for the year. The uptick in animal products somewhat mirrors the recovery in the livestock sector after the 2015-16 drought period. Nonetheless, we still believe that the agricultural sector will contract in 2018 due to generally lower output of major agricultural commodities compared to 2017.
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06/03/2017 SA agricultural economy grew by 17.7% in 2017
After an extended contraction in 2015 and 2016, the South African agricultural economy grew by 17.7% in 2017. This was boosted by strong output in almost all the subsectors, such as field crops, livestock and horticulture, amongst others. In fact, this is also clear from trade data, where the country’s agricultural exports grew past the US$10 billion mark for the first time.
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31/05/2021 SA's summer crop production estimates adjusted upwards
Last week, the South African Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) further lifted, mildly, its forecast for 2020/21 maize, soybeans, sunflower seed and sorghum from the April 2021 estimate to 16,2 million tonnes (up 6% y/y – the second-largest harvest on record), 1,9 million tonnes (up 54% y/y, a record harvest), 716 240 tonnes (down 9% y/y) and 195 035 tonnes (up 23% y/y), respectively. Meanwhile, dry beans and groundnut production estimates were left unchanged from April 2021, at 56 577 tonnes (down 13% y/y) and 57 900 tonnes (up 16% y/y), respectively. The broadly large summer grain and oilseeds production estimate this season is on the back of increased area plantings for summer crops and favourable rainfall since the start of the season.
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05/05/2021 SA’s large maize harvest might not lead to a notable decline in prices in the near term
Last week, the South African Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) mildly lifted its forecast for 2020/21 maize, soybeans and sorghum from the March 2021 estimate to 16,1 million tonnes (up 5% y/y – the second-largest harvest on record), 1,8 million tonnes (up 44% y/y, a record harvest), and 189 885 tonnes (up 20% y/y), respectively. Meanwhile, sunflower seed and groundnut production estimates were left unchanged from March 2021, at 696 290 tonnes (down 12% y/y) and 57 900 tonnes (up 16% y/y), respectively. The dry beans were the only crop whose estimates were slashed by 9% from March 2021 to 56 577 tonnes (down 13% y/y).<div><br></div>
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29/03/2021 SA's 2020/21 summer grain and oilseeds harvest lifted from February estimates
Last week, the South African Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) mildly lifted its forecast for 2020/21 summer grain and oilseeds production from the previous month by 1% to 18,7 million tonnes (this compared with 17,6 million tonnes in 2019/20 production season). The upward adjustments were on maize, soybeans and sorghum, whereas sunflower seed, dry bean and groundnut production estimates were revised. If we zoom into significant crops, the 2020/21 maize, soybean and sunflower seed harvests are forecast at 15,9 million tonnes (up 4% y/y, and second-largest harvest on record), 1,9 million tonnes (up 39% y/y, a record harvest), and 712 940 tonnes (down 12% y/y), as illustrated in Exhibit 1.
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30/09/2020 SA set to have the largest wheat harvest in a decade, and largest canola and barley harvest on record
This week the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) reaffirmed its view that South Africa’s 2020/21 wheat crop could be the largest in a decade, while the canola and barley harvest could be the largest on record. The CEC lifted all the production forecasts of all the aforementioned crops by 3% each from last month’s levels as favourable rainfall suggests that there could be good yields in several regions. The current estimates suggest that South Africa’s 2020/21 wheat, barley and canola production could increase by 32% y/y, 51% y/y and 33%, respectively, to 2.02 million tonnes, 520 106 tonnes and 126 520 tonnes (Exhibit 1).
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26/02/2020 SA’s 2019/20 summer crop looks promising
This promises to be a good year for South Africa’s agricultural sector, at least from a production front. The data released this afternoon by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) show that South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crops production could increase by 26% y/y to 16.8 million tonnes. While this is still the first estimate for this season, with eight more to follow, if it materialises, this could be the second-largest summer crops harvest on record after the 2016/17 crop. The major gains are on maize, soybeans and sunflower seed as illustrated in Exhibit 1.
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29/01/2020 There’s optimism about SA’s 2019/20 summer crop season
While South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crop production season started on a negative footing with delayed rainfall across the country, farmers managed to plant the area they intended. This was confirmed by the preliminary plantings data released this afternoon by South Africa’s Crop Estimate Committee (CEC) which shows South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crop area at 3.97 million hectares.1 This is up 1% and 8% from the intentions to plant data released in October 2019 and area planted in 2018/19 season, respectively. There is an improvement in area plantings of all crops with the exception of sorghum and dry beans whose area planting fell by 28% y/y and 13% y/y, respectively.
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24/10/2019 SA farmers optimistic about the 2019/20 production season
South Africa’s summer crop farmers are upbeat about the 2019/20 production season as is evident in the farmers’ intentions data released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) this afternoon. The data showed a potential 7% y/y increase in area plantings to 3.9 million hectares.1 The crops underpinning this potential uptick in area plantings are maize (white and yellow), sunflower seed, soybeans and groundnuts, partly because of relatively attractive domestic market prices. On 23 October 2019, sunflower seed, soybeans, yellow maize and white maize prices were up by 10% y/y, 29% y/y, 17% y/y and 21% y/y, respectively. Meanwhile, sorghum and dry beans hectares could decline notably from the area planted in 2018/19 production season.
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28/05/2019 SA maize harvest estimate lifted by 2% from last month
South Africa’s maize supplies for the 2018/19 production year are shaping up better than we previously feared at the beginning of the year when dryness in the western parts of the country led to delayed plantings. Figures released by South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee show that 2018/19 maize harvest could amount to 10.9 million tonnes, which is a 2% increase from last month’s estimate. This was underpinned by an improvement in the white maize production expectation, which is now set to reach 5.5 million tonnes, up by 4% from last month’s estimate on the back of expected better yields in the Free State. The yellow maize harvest was lifted by 1% from last month to 5.4 million tonnes. The harvest process has started in the eastern parts of South Africa, particularly Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, where over 40% of the area planted under maize had been completed by the 24th of May 2019. The yields generally varied between below-average to average, although the eastern regions received better rainfall than the western areas of the country where the harvest process has not started.
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27/03/2019 SA’s summer grains and oilseeds production estimates lifted marginally
South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) lifted its estimates for the country’s 2018/19 grains and oilseeds production by 0.4% from last month to 12.7 million tonnes. There were no adjustments in most commodities’ production estimates with the exception of sorghum which was lowered by 3% from last month, while the maize estimate was lifted marginally, and thus overshowed the decline in sorghum, resulting into an overall increase in the grains and oilseeds estimate (see Figure 1). With that said, the overall grains and oilseeds production estimate is still 16% lower than the 2017/18 harvest due to a reduction in area planted, and expectations of relatively lower yields in some areas. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz chief economist
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31/01/2018 Early estimates show a 7% y/y decline in SA’s 2017/18 summer crop plantings
South Africa’s 2017/18 initial estimates for summer crop plantings show a 7% year-on-year decline to 3.70 million hectares. White maize, sunflower seed, groundnuts and sorghum plantings are the key reason for this overall downswing. This, in turn, was driven by dry and warm weather conditions experienced in the western parts of South Africa over the past couple of weeks - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist
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16/02/2021 Fuel price increase on the cards in March 2021
While we are still early in the month and more data is yet to be available, the Central Energy Fund's preliminary estimates suggest that South Africa could experience another increase in fuel prices. Petrol (95 ULP Inland) and Diesel (0.05% Wholesale Inland) prices could increase by 59 cents per litre (c/l) and 45 (c/l) respectively, on 03 March 2021. This adjustment means the retail price of petrol could rise to R16,26 per litre from the current level of R15,67 per litre. Simultaneously, the wholesale diesel price could increase to R14,03 per litre from R13,58 per litre in February 2021. This will be the highest level for petrol since December 2019, while for diesel it's the highest level since March 2020.
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18/01/2018 UPDATE: SA fuel prices set to decline in February 2018
After a positive start to the year with a marginal decline in fuel prices, February 2018 could bring a further reduction in fuel prices, thanks to the stronger domestic currency. It is still early to be certain about the scale, but the current estimates suggest that prices of petrol and diesel could fall by 3% and 1%, respectively, from January 2018 levels - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist
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