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Since retail supermarket chains in South Africa do not provide easy entry for organic produce owing to difficult demands for volumes and consistent quality (INR 2008), alternative outlets such as farmers’ markets and other directmarketing avenues provide good alternatives. The processing industry is able to absorb organic produce, for example for the processing of herbs and spices, baby food, juices, yoghurt, and canned fruit and vegetables. In all cases, however, price premiums are not guaranteed. This has led to the situation where most of the organic produce grown in South Africa is exported. The well-developed channels and infrastructure for agricultural exports and a healthy demand in the EU, USA and Japan, in particular, make this a viable and lucrative option (Barrow 2006). Processed organic food is in increasing demand in key export markets. For example, in Germany, 75% of baby foods on supermarket shelves are organic, and similar figures are recorded in the UK. Demand for organic produce is driven primarily by the perceived health benefits to adults and children, and secondarily by concern for the environment and the welfare of animals, on the basis of an emerging body of evidence over a few decades of practice. Equally, the development of alternative value chains for other/related forms of sustainable agriculture, such as CA, will require a sound knowledge basis of measurable and verifiable benefits to the health of humans (the consumers –if relevant), benefits to farm labour, benefits to the environment, and long-term economic benefits, in order to differentiate itself from conventional agriculture. Ultimately, CA/OCA must gain acceptance across the value chain and be demanded by informed South African value chain actors and consumers if it is to succeed and scale up to become the dominant paradigm. 4.3 Quality of the food system The sustainability of an agricultural and food system is defined not only by the sustainability of production and consumption and the equitable distribution of value across value chains, but also by the quality of the food delivered, the demands of the system on natural resources, the loading of pollution and waste back into the environment, aspects of food security, as well as the safeguards and direction provided by laws and policies. 4.3.1 Quality of food Quality of food can be assessed variously as the overall quality of the diet (nutrition), the safety of the food consumed (in terms of risk to cause illness or even death), and the quality of a specific food type grown under different production systems. These aspects will be discussed in the following sections.
52 First, South Africans have already shown interesting changes in food consumption since the 1970s. Thanks to increased wealth and post-apartheid reforms, the country’s middle class has increased by 30% between 2001 and 2004. This has allowed a shift from staple grain crops to a more diverse, although not necessarily healthier diet. South Africans have shown a decrease in