Structural Shift in South Africa’s Soybean Oilcake Imports

OK folks, I know I have recently discussed South Africa’s soybean production outlook, but here is a few lines about structural changes in oilcake import market.

To reiterate a point made on April 27, Agbiz estimates that South Africa’s soybean oilcake imports could reach 458 992 tonnes in 2018, down by 17 percent from last year (see featured image). The expected decline in imports is driven by strong local soybean production, currently estimated at a record 1.4 million tonnes.

Over the past 12-years, Argentina was the leading supplier of soybean oilcake to South Africa, accounting for roughly 99 percent of the market share (see featured image).

This year will most likely present similar dynamics, albeit Argentina having recorded a decline in its soybean production (Argentina’s 2017/18 soybean production could reach 38 million tonnes, down by 31% percent from the previous season).

There was somewhat a structural shift in soybean oilcake imports in 2017, with new entrants in the market on the processing side of the value chain. Thus, leading to a decline in Argentina’s share in South Africa’s soybean oilcake import market. The new suppliers were Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. These collectively accounted for 12 percent of South Africa’s soybean oilcake imports in 2017.

With that said, South Africa’s soybean oilcake imports are on the decline, despite the aforementioned structural shifts.

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Author: Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. He is a columnist for Business Day and Farmers Weekly magazine. Sihlobo is a member of the South African Agricultural Economics Association. He has previously served as an economist at Grain South Africa. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

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