Area planted

The Free State, Western Cape and Northern Province remain the major potato production areas in South Africa, having produced 65% of the total crop in 1999. The planting of potatoes for the 2000 season is estimated at 53 612 ha—approximately 3 068 ha or 5,4% less than the plantings for the 1999 season.


Potatoes contributed approximately 41,4% to the gross value of vegetables produced during 1999. A total of roughly 163 million X 10 kg pockets—6,3% less than that of the 1999 potato crop—is expected for 2000. Over the past six years, the potato production showed an upward trend at an annual average growth of 2%.  

* Forecast


During 1999, approximately 95,6 million x 10 kg pockets of potatoes were sold on the 16 major fresh produce markets, as against the 89,4 million of 1998 and the 94,5 million of 1997.  

During 1999, approximately 45% of potato sales on the fresh produce markets took place in Gauteng, which comprise the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Springs markets. The Johannesburg fresh produce market remains the largest seller of potatoes, followed by Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban.

During the past four years, the sale of potatoes on the fresh produce markets increased by 13,1%, from 84,5 million X 10 kg pockets in 1995 to 95,6 million 10 kg pockets in 1999, representing an average growth rate of approximately 3% per annum. During the first six months of 2000, sales decreased by approximately 8,3% compared to the corresponding period of 1999. This was mainly due to the floods in the Northern Province in the first quarter of 2000.  


The total gross human consumption of potatoes decreased by 1,1% during 1999. During the period 1995 to 1999, the per capita consumption increased by an average annual rate of approximately 4,9%.







Total production (‘000 tons)

Gross human consumption
 (‘000 tons)

Per capita consumption (kg p.a.)

1 485

1 104


1 666

1 310


1 637

1 323


1 640

1 336


1 744

1 321




The annual average increase of potato prices on the major fresh produce markets was 6,1% between 1995 and 1999. Potato prices decreased by 12,7% during 1999, but are expected to pick up during 2000.

* Forecast


Processing of potatoes had an upward trend since 1995, with an annual average growth rate of 13,1%.

During 1999, approximately 16% of the total production of potatoes was taken in for processing. About 96% of the total potatoes taken in for processing was processed into potato chips and the remaining 4% was taken in for canning, freezing and dehydration. Potatoes processed experienced a further (8,3%) increase during 1999. During the past two years, the emphasis shifted from fresh potato chips to frozen chips, while the consumption of crisps also showed a sound growth.


During 1999, about 7% of the total potato production was exported. During the past five years, the quantity of potatoes exported increased at an annual average growth rate of approximately 26%. The export prices of potatoes increased by 28% in 1999. It is expected that income from potato exports could further increase in the years ahead. The export markets seem to be improving, especially Mauritius which is South Africa’s most important export destination for table and seed potatoes. With the implementation of the SADC free trade agreement, other SADC member countries could become additional export destinations for South African potatoes.

Potatoes offered for export have to comply with the quality standards prescribed in the export regulations, as well as the phytosanitary requirements of the importing countries.