STOCK TAKE | Vegan options get beefier and SA edges up the jobs ladder

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

OPINION

Vegan options get beefier

Please sir, I want some more!

Gone are the days when the only plant-based main offering available in restaurants was a helping of deep-fried, crumbed mushrooms with the consistency of an old shoe. Luckier customers, if you can call them that, were sometimes spoilt with the additional choice of overcooked creamed spinach and butternut. Neither of these options were too appealing and quite frankly even the titular character of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist would have balked at the thought of asking for more.

Nowadays the plant-based food industry, globally and in SA, has become increasingly sophisticated and offering a lot more to discerning palates. Not only do plant-based meat alternatives taste a lot better, but there is now a wide variety to choose from.  

The only problem though is the pricing point, as it is still a small portion of the food market in SA. Food is a volumes game, meaning that if there are relatively low volumes of a said product being made and sold, this unfortunately will translate into a higher price. As a result, consumers often have to, on average, fork out more for plant-based ready-made meals than for their meat counterparts.

But there are a lot of positive signs that this situation can ultimately change. First of all, there is a growing trend of people seeking healthier food choices, which is helping to support the plant-based sector in SA.

Because of this, not only are there more restaurants offering plant-based food offerings, some are even 100% focused on providing meat alternatives. Secondly, SA’s supermarkets are also offering a far wider variety of foods in this category. Thirdly, there are a lot of new entrants in the segment, which is fuelling competition. And as we all know nothing brings down pricing quite like competition does. 

Importantly, SA’s JSE-listed food producers are also exploring the plant-based sector, which will likely further lend support to reducing pricing over the longer term. Earlier this year, for instance, Tiger Brands’s Venture Capital Fund, announced it had acquired a minority stake in Cape Town-based Herbivore Earthfoods for an undisclosed amount.

Last week, during its results presentation, RFG, which manufactures products such as Rhodes and Bull Brand, also indicated it was monitoring the plant-based sector, having started expanding into the ready-made meal division of that segment. Management was at pains to point out that while it is a strongly growing market, this is coming off a low base.

But while RFG CEO Pieter Hanekom said the plant-based category is not a big business in the South African context at the moment, it certainly has potential to become one over time. With more players entering the market, pricing could become more attractive.

Furthermore "if you can also get the volumes up and get a bit of operational leverage that will also over time bring prices down", said Hanekom.

While a major reduction in pricing is clearly not something that will happen overnight, lovers of plant-based food can take some comfort from the fact that the likes of Tiger and RFG are taking this food segment seriously. Restaurant groups such as Famous Brands also say the trend towards healthier eating seems set to stay. Others will likely follow suit and with that will certainly come cries "for more" from SA’s consumers.

Good job

With the final month of the year finally here, offering the prospect of festivities worthy of the name, it now seems as if SA may have got through a year of war and plague with less scathes than feared.

There is some good news about, including the year passing without a major new corporate scandal, such as a new Tongaat or Steinhoff, but also, the JSE is hovering near positive territory for the year, and is getting some notable new listings. The rand is close to breaking through the right side of R17/$ level and surging inflation seemingly hasn't killed the consumer economy yet, while many JSE-listed firms, fresh off years of cost containment and hoarding cash during Covid-19, are still looking to expand.

Also, even though 2022 has SA's worst-ever bout of rolling blackouts, as well as floods, some - like Pakistan - have it much worse, Europe is battling with a land war, China is still battling with Covid-19, the US is still battling with extreme political polarisation, and events in the UK have helped dispel the notion, at least for some, that rich governments can't go bankrupt.

Not everything is good news, of course, but Thursday's unemployment data was at least a reason to be less Grinchy, showing a full percentage point drop to 32.9%. That's less than a third!

The improvement means South Africa’s jobless rate now trails Namibia and Nigeria on a list of 82 countries and the eurozone monitored by Bloomberg, though the global news agency goes on to note some of its data is outdated.

But even if there are celebrations about an improving labour market, SA's economic growth, according to the Reserve Bank's latest forecast, is still only pegged at 1.1% growth in 2023, before "accelerating" to 1.4% in 2024, and 1.5% in 2025. This is obviously not enough for a meaningful unemployment reduction, while there are also plenty of warnings that even this level of growth is ambitious.

In addition, before breaking out the champagne, it's worth noting that the National Development plan had set an objective of an unemployment rate of 14% by 2020. It was 24.9% in 2012 when the plan was released. 


Tweet of the day


Chart of the day

Source: Statistics SA


Number of the day

-39,9%
The fall in the number of discouraged work seekers in the City of Johannesburg in the third quarter of 2022, according to StatsSA. This is a decline of 117 000.

Previously:

STOCK TAKE | Was Sello Moloko forced to make a call?

STOCK TAKE | Surviving on bread and Coke on the JSE

STOCK TAKE | Where did the Trustco trust go?

STOCK TAKE | Another SA firm burned in Australia and what the Post Office, Twitter have in common

STOCK TAKE | Will Gold Fields come up short?

STOCK TAKE | Chicken Licken eyes everyone's souls and Shoprite has fans in Singapore

STOCK TAKE | The Dis-Chem dodge - and will you be paying by cash, card or crypto?

STOCK TAKE | Discovery executives make bank

STOCK TAKE | Heineken keeps it green, Godongwana's careful words and SA's tax revolt odds

STOCK TAKE | In praise of SA's great worriers

STOCK TAKE | Eskom (sort of) stimulates business spending, while super yacht heads SA's way

STOCK TAKE | Telkom gets jilted and Markus 2.0

STOCK TAKE | The Dis-Chem drama - and Pick n Pay slump points to trouble ahead

STOCK TAKE | A tale of two smelters, and did banks get it wrong on home loans?

STOCK TAKE | Reserve Bank walks the hawk talk and Harmony re-emerges down under

STOCK TAKE | Allan Gray takes shine to Gold Fields - and Anglo's Kusile-sized generator

STOCK TAKE | Pick n Pay's big bet - and should you follow Gerrie?

STOCK TAKE | Is Sasol's hydrogen plan just hot air?

STOCK TAKE | Karooooo grows its Os and Ackerman states it like it is

STOCK TAKE | A German cure for SA labour woes - and what’s Schadenfreude in Swedish?

STOCK TAKE | Allan Gray takes shine to Gold Fields - and Anglo's Kusile-sized generator

STOCK TAKE | Telkom avoids signal loss amid the Rain - and the Woolies wage way

News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
17.19
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
21.27
+0.3%
Rand - Euro
18.70
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.22
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.3%
Platinum
1,014.13
+1.0%
Palladium
1,673.78
+0.4%
Gold
1,930.12
+0.0%
Silver
23.73
-0.8%
Brent Crude
87.47
+1.5%
Top 40
74,965
+0.7%
All Share
80,989
+0.6%
Resource 10
78,340
+0.2%
Industrial 25
103,968
+0.8%
Financial 15
16,321
+0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders