The study investigated and analysed the baby vegetable industry in South Africa in order to understand the profile, extent and economics of the industry. The study was conducted in the Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape Provinces. Four baby vegetable categories were selected namely, baby carrots, baby sweet corn, baby gems and baby marrows and enterprise budgets for these baby vegetables were developed. Baby vegetables are unique produce trading at a premium price to traditional vegetables. Unlike traditional vegetables, baby vegetables are not produced in large quantities in South Africa as only few producers are producing them on a scale smaller than traditional vegetables. Since it is such a small industry very little is known about the production, distribution and the marketing of baby vegetables, both in South Africa and in the export market. Thus the size, volumes, economics of production, distribution and marketing channels as well as the export market of the baby vegetable industry are not known. This is because research on baby vegetables is limited as data for these vegetables is not readily available and accessible. The cost involved in producing the four baby vegetables was also determined through the development of their enterprise budgets and labour costs were found to be the highest cost of production. The enterprise budgets developed are expected to assist farmers when planning and making production decisions as well as projecting future yields and cost of production. The study ascertained that the supply chain for baby vegetables in South Africa is comprised of baby vegetable producers, staging companies, distribution centres, and the different markets. Markets for baby vegetables in South Africa consist of food retail outlets, fresh produce markets, fresh fruit and vegetable outlets, individual agents and the export market. Baby vegetables are also exported from South Africa. Europe is the largest market for South African baby vegetable exports. However, African countries such as Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also major role players in baby vegetable exports to the European market, followed by Swaziland. When compared to these countries, South Africa is not a major producer and exporter of baby vegetables. The baby vegetable industry according to the study, is a competitive industry and the continuation of supply by all supply chain members is determined by adhering to set standards, which requires the supply of high quality produce which is safe for consumption and is traceable. In the South African market, also referred to as the domestic market, food retail outlets have high standards of food quality and food safety that producers must adhere to. In the export market, standards are set and monitored by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and import agents and these standards include Global Good Agricultural Practices (GlobalGAP) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. Further research into the baby vegetable industry is essential in order to know the size of the industry, the volumes of baby vegetables produced and the farm-to-retail price spreads within the industry, and to develop enterprise budgets that are representative of the baby vegetable industry. Since the data for baby vegetable production and sales are currently combined with those for traditional vegetables, it is important to document the industry separately.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2013.