CBI’s Export Programme Natural Ingredients in South Africa has been concluded. ProFound has supported CBIs activities in the natural ingredients sector in South Africa since early 2014. What have we achieved on behalf of CBI in those years?

First Natural Ingredients and Cosmetics Export Strategy of South Africa

Stakeholders in South Africa’s natural ingredients sector were facing the same bottlenecks and leaving good opportunities untapped. However, they didn’t work together to overcome these problems. We joined up with CBI Business Support Organisation Development expert Jim Tersteeg to change this situation. Starting with bringing these stakeholders together. Making an exporter of grape seed oil, a producer of medicinal plants and a practitioner of traditional South African medicine see that they are on the same boat was more difficult than we thought.

Conferences on natural ingredients in South Africa

Regional and national conferences were a powerful tool. Here,
the sector joined together for the first time. In these conferences government actors and academia quickly hammered out a strategy for the entire sector. We are proud to have been a key contributor to the resulting Natural Ingredients and Cosmetics Export Strategy of South Africa. This strategy includes actions by public and private sector stakeholders on:

  • R&D and innovation,
  • Sustainable Supply of Natural Ingredients,
  • Processing and Manufacturing,
  • Commercialization, and
  • Legislation.

What’s next for the natural ingredients sector?

Based on this strategy, several initiatives have already been developed. For example, UNIDO leads an initiative to improve essential oils quality and standards. The ABS Initiative is increasing the number of ABS compliant value chains, whereas SIPPO is supporting export promotion for natural ingredients. Local ministries have stepped up their efforts as well. They aim to organise a first national South African pavilion at Biofach in 2020, and are supporting companies to access other trade fairs such as In-Cosmetics.

ProFound is currently working with Kruger Swart and Associates to set up an industry group to leverage other opportunities. These include public-public partnerships, information sharing platforms and coaching programmes to help companies from ideation to international marketing.

What are the results for individual companies in South Africa?

Next to our support to the natural ingredients strategy, we helped eight health ingredient producers to get ready for the European market. We assisted companies through audits and to implement their action plans based on these audits. With this coaching we tackled anything from improving processing facilities, product development, certification and compliance, up to CRM and management systems.

We also supported these companies to develop their own CSR and Export Marketing plans. In the end, not all companies were ready to export to Europe. Others chose not to export but concentrate on their production.

Vitafoods 2018: exporters of natural ingredients from South Africa and Pakistan
Pakistani and South African ingredient exporters at Vitafoods 2018

We guided several companies that were ready and willing to enter the European market at the Vitafoods trade fair, the annual event for the global nutraceutical supply chain. The learning curve of these companies has been great. They have made great leaps in developing the right product for Europe, promoting these products, and doing business at an international level.

Export results to Europe amounted to € 380,000 in 2018, spread over four companies. Even those companies that decided to focus on their large national market learned from this international exposure. It has made them much better able to quickly identify and leverage opportunities and succeed in South Africa.