The Western Cape, one of SA’s economic powerhouses, has been on an aggressive drive to boost trade relations with key regions and to access new markets—necessary to accelerate economic growth and job creation.
Western Cape-based businesses have received a big boost following the launch of the inaugural Made in the Cape initiative which aims to promote local products in new and existing export markets.
The initiative, a brainchild of Wesgro, the official trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, connects buyers from across the world with local producers.
The inaugural event was officially launched on Wednesday evening—and brought together 39 selected international buyers from 18 different countries, and over 300 local producers mainly in the food, beverage, and agriculture businesses.
The Western Cape, one of SA’s economic powerhouses, has been on an aggressive drive to boost trade relations with key regions and to access new markets—necessary to accelerate economic growth and job creation. The Made in the Cape initiative is expected to facilitate greater access to markets and boost exports, Wrenelle Stander, the CEO of Wesgro, said during the opening ceremony.
“In 2022 South Africa was the largest exporter of food and beverages in Africa - almost 50% of these originate from the Western Cape. Every day, over 19 million glasses of award-winning South African wines are enjoyed around the world. In fact, 4% of world wine production happens in the Western Cape and 95% of all SA wines come from the Western Cape,” said Stander.
She said in essence Made in the Cape is a region of origin brand, which promotes products that tell the unique story of Cape Town and the Western Cape.
Stander also highlighted that the initiative brings to life the virtual Cape Trade Portal - the digital trade matchmaking platform.
“In 2022, we started off with 115 registered exporters showcasing 600 products. Within one year the platform has grown to 924 exporters showcasing over 4000 Western Cape products. Digital platforms have the power to increase market access exponentially and we are certainly seeing the results of this.”
Amongst the buyers present at the official launch of the Made in the Cape initiative were New York-based Wine for the World, a company that imports and distributes wines from around the world; and Luen Heng, a major importer and supplier of food, beverage, personal care and alcoholic products in Malaysia.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event on Wednesday evening, Bashir Solebo, a sales representative and portfolio manager at Wine for the World, said the company’s emphasis is on quality, small producers, and environmental and social sustainability.
“South Africa is one of the best wine making countries in the world…amazing wines. Bang for buck no one beats South Africa—value for money,” he said.
Thon Wai San-Catherine from Luen Heng, said South African wines currently enjoy about 4% market share in Malaysia and this is set to grow, driven by young adults keen to explore. Luen Heng already distributes wines from major producers in the Western Cape such as Nederburg but is looking to buy more from smaller producers in the region to offer its customers a wider range.
The Made in the Cape official launch was also attended by Western Cape agriculture MEC Dr Ivan Meyer, and Premier Alan Winde.
Meyer emphasised that an export-led growth strategy is vital for job creation, and the agricultural sector plays a key role thereof.
“The Western Cape makes up only 10% of the total geographical size of South Africa – yet the province is responsible for 55% of South Africa’s agricultural exports,” said Meyer.
Exports from the Western Cape to key overseas markets have surged in recent years mainly driven by agriculture exports including wine and fruit. In 2022, the province shipped R188bn worth of goods up from about R167bn the year before, and R139bn in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Ramping up exports ranks among the highest priorities of any government wishing to boost economic growth. The Western Cape provincial government highlights that by exporting, businesses can increase their revenue, reach many new customers in international markets, achieve economies of scale, offset seasonality, and drive innovation and competitiveness.
Winde said the province is punching well above its weight. "We are a region of dynamic entrepreneurs who take our raw produce and turn it into world-class products for the shelf.”
“We will continue to grow our brand and region, making sure we are a destination of choice for trading, visiting, and investing," added Winde.