Having a largest cattle herd does not always translate to being a biggest beef or milk producer. South Africa is ranked sixth in the continent by cattle herd count, but it is the largest beef producer, and third largest milk producer in Africa.
South Africans are generally eating more meat these days. In 2000 beef, poultry and pork per capita consumption were at 15,6kg, 21,5kg and 3,0kg respectively. In 2017 this increased to 17,2kg for beef, 41,0kg for chicken and 5,0kg for pork. While consumption of all meats has risen, chicken has taken the lead due to price competitiveness.
Durban harbour is key to South Africa’s grain trade. In the 2017/18 marketing year, South Africa exported 2.3 million tonnes of maize (white and yellow). About 74% of this went to markets through Durban harbour (nothing through other harbours), with the rest exported by road and rail to the continent.
The US soybean farmers, industry groups and government officials’ quest to look beyond China for exports markets might prove fruitless. There is just not enough demand outside China.