After two years of identifying bottlenecks to export for South African natural ingredients suppliers, a sector strategy is taking shape. The strategy tackles issues such as conflicting government policies, a lack of cooperation in the sector, and access to finance.

“The third strategic workshop of DTI and CBI on Natural Ingredients in South Africa, on the 28th of October, brought together all relevant stakeholders to agree on a strategy for the sector.”

– Robbie Hogervorst, senior consultant at ProFound

This strategy defines actions needed to develop a business enabling environment for the sector: at the level of legislation, sustainable supply chain development, manufacturing, commercialisation and R&D. It also assigns responsibility to specific stakeholders such as ministries, research institutes, industry associations and individual suppliers.

Robbie Hogervorst and Jim Tersteeg (CBI) combined inputs from earlier workshops and drafted a strategy which will be used as input for the event. ProFound will also support the working groups which will be finalising the various action points. CBI’s main counterpart in South Africa, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Cosmetic Sector Desk will make further agreements on planning and costing with other stakeholders to put the strategy into action.

ProFound is happy to share 4 key lessons learned:

  1. The natural ingredients sector is a diverse sector with many stakeholders. Suppliers of plant materials, extracts or essential oils for different industries often do not realise they have many common interests though. Facilitators must spend enough time to identify and bring together stakeholders and make them realise they are in the same boat.
  2. Policy makers are often not aware of the transformational capacity of the sector, providing income opportunities to collectors, smallholders and processors, sustainable use of natural resources and increasing exports of value added products. Building such a sector spirit was a powerful tool to develop a common vision for the sector.
  3. To realise this capacity, both the public and private sector need to take responsibility. Government needs to align policies and provide smart incentives to enable natural ingredient entrepreneurs to take their idea from pilot to commercial scale, while it is up to entrepreneurs to develop their ingredient and organise their value chain from source to market.
  4. Sustainability is not high on the agenda for most parties involved, issues such as rural development or employment come first. Facilitators need to show how sustainability can positively contribute towards local economic development as well as profitability of the sector. For example, supporting companies who go beyond CSR compliance provides them with a powerful marketing tool in international markets, or sustainable collection methods enable communities to source high quality products without risking exhaustion of the natural resource.