South Africans generally consume peanuts (groundnuts) in two forms — as edible nuts, as well as processed peanut-butter. I largely contribute to the latter — I mean, who doesn’t like quick peanut butter sandwich or snack?

I assume there are some people out there who, like myself, always makes sure there is peanut-butter in their cupboard. This keeps the peanut-butter and peanut demand strong, and in turn stimulates domestic peanut production.

The volume of peanuts utilised for peanut-butter processing grew by 23 percent between 2013 and 2017, reaching 31 700 tonnes. The edible peanuts market grew by 9 percent over the same period to 28 600 tonnes.

The production side of peanuts reacted positively to increasing demand — growing from 74 500 tonnes in 2013/14 production season to 92 050 tonnes in 2016/17 production season. This was due to an expansion in area planted and higher yields.

With that said, South Africa remains a net importer of peanuts. In 2017/18 marketing year, the country imported 16 696 tonnes of peanuts (roughly in line with the volumes imported in pre-drought periods, which is 2014/15 and 2015/16 marketing year). The leading suppliers included Argentina, China, India, The United States and Mozambique, amongst others.

There is an opportunity for import substitution, but that will require increased investments in higher yielding peanut seed varieties, as well as improvements in production efficiency.

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