The competitive status of the South African wheat industry

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This article investigates the competitiveness of the South African wheat industry and compares it to its major trade partners. Since 1997, the wheat-to-bread value chain has been characterised by concentration of ownership and regulation. This led to concerns that the local wheat market is losing international competitiveness. The competitive status of the wheat industry, and its sub-sectors, is determined through the estimation of the relative trade advantage (RTA). The results revealed declining competitiveness of local wheat producers. Compared to the major global wheat producers, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany and the USA, South Africa's unprocessed wheat industry is uncompetitive. At the same time, South Africa has a competitive advantage in semi-processed wheat, especially wheat flour. The institutional environment enables the importation of raw wheat at lower prices and exports processed wheat flour competitively to the rest of Africa.