Unlocking export potential of essential and vegetable oils from South Africa

May 25, 2023

Unlocking export potential of essential and vegetable oils from South Africa

On 24 May 2023, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa (the dtic), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO have signed a project to continue supporting South Africa’s efforts to improve the quality of indigenous essential and vegetable oils.

This project, “Unlocking the export potential of essential and vegetable oils from South Africa”, is the first to be initiated within the second phase of the Global Quality and Standards Programme (GQSP) 2022-2027. The GQSP is an innovative large-scale programme developed by UNIDO and SECO to address sustainably the quality and standards related challenges in partner countries. Its objective is to facilitate market access for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through targeted interventions along the value chain.

The launching event took place at the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens bringing together high-level public and private sector representatives from the South African technical quality infrastructure system, associations, academia, enterprises from the essential oils sector and the international development partners. The event served to celebrate the positive achievements of the first phase, while a vision for the future was outlined.

Since 2018, the GQSP has focused on strengthening the South African essential and vegetable oils production and exports through enhancing the quality of local production. These efforts will be continued in a second four-year phase, which will intensify the work already conducted, and add new elements to elevate the approach, e.g. through the introduction of new technologies, smart farming practices and the development of a national quality policy.

During its first phase, 2018-2023, the GQSP in South Africa has supported National Standards Body, SABS, in the development of two national standards for indigenous oils, with two more in the pipeline. Three testing laboratories were equipped to provide state-of-the-art conformity assessment services in line with the industry’s needs. Support to the Southern African Essential Oil Producers‘ Association (SAEOPA) resulted in an 350% increase of their memberships and the organization of two regional conferences to promote essential and vegetable oil production. In addition, a pool of trainers has been trained to expand the reach and support the industry to produce at the right quality, and thereby increase their sales and participation in global trade.