- Jun 20, 2012
South Africa has been a net importer of butter for years. In 2018, 85% of those imports came from as far afield as New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, and the Ukraine.
And it’s cheaper to import than it is to make it locally. Imports in 2018 ranged from around R68 per kilogram to about R100 per kilogram. And with only a R5 per kilogram import duty, the imports are undercutting local suppliers.
All Woolworths-branded butter carries the "Product of South Africa" label, but Shoprite-owned Checkers has a far wider range from all four corners of the globe. There you will find "President of France", which is priced at a premium to local butter, while American and Ukranian butter significantly undercuts the local market.
On a recent visit to Checkers Business Insider found Kings Gold (from the Ukraine) retailing at under R50 for a 500g block, while Crystal Valley (from the USA) comes in under R60.
Local brands like Ladismith retail around R65 a block and Clover’s main offerings Springbok and Mooi River go for over R70 for half a kilo. Processed products made by the likes of Lurpak and Kerrygold from Ireland sell at premium prices in smaller formats.
Shoprite said in written replies to questions that it increasingly was receiving less butter than it needed from local suppliers and was forced to source product internationally to meet demand.