While many retailers are expecting a Black Friday rush, farmers who supply some of the country’s leading stores say the shopping craze does very little for their bank balances. They are price-takers, after all.
Lebogang Phume, a vegetable and livestock farmer from North West, tells Food For Mzansi that farmers are usually the last to benefit from Black Friday specials offered by retailers. “I have not seen it as an opportunity to increase my profits. Where we supply, we do not get discounts on what we deliver,” she says.
In previous years, Phume has also noted that operational costs tend to increase over the big days.
“I have never seen the benefits of it as a farmer. Market prices for [the] festive [season] are very low, [and] harvesting in December is not an option. I harvest in January because that is when prices go up.”
Meanwhile, a Limpopo producer of sweet potato yoghurt, Edward Kgarose, adds that the greater demand brought about by Black Friday and the festive season also means added pressure for agro-processors.
“We have a lot of pressure during this time,” he says. “Many companies are closing [for extended holiday periods] and we have to buy more raw material to sustain us through December until mid-January.”
Kgarose believes Black Friday sets the tune for a busy festive session. “This is a critical time for us. Everyone has something to spend on, and we really must produce more than usual. While that is the case, the capital to buy raw materials for this period remains a challenge.”
An economist’s perspective
Kulani Siweya, an agricultural economist with Agri SA, explains that because farmers are usually price-takers, they have little negotiating power and don’t benefit much from events like Black Friday.
“[However,] the one side where there could be possible benefit is if Black Friday specials drive up demand and [when] there are volumes being moved across the value chain. Only then would we really see some meaningful returns,” he says.
Siweya adds that with the particularly tough year that farmers have seen, they would appreciate any savings on their input costs. “An 80% discount, for example, thanks to Black Friday on electricity, fuel or fertiliser would lead to a joyful season for many and would cushion the profit margins.”
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