An overview of the South African Sugar Industry

The South African sugar industry is one of the world’s leading cost competitive producers of high quality sugar and makes an important contribution to employment, particularly in rural areas, to sustainable development and to the national economy. It is a diverse industry combining the agricultural activities of sugarcane cultivation with the manufacture of raw and refined sugar, syrups, specialised sugars and a range of by-products.

The cane growing sector comprises 21 926 registered sugarcane growers farming in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Sugar is manufactured by six milling companies with 14 sugar mills operating in these cane growing regions. The industry produces an estimated average of 2.2 million tons of sugar per season. About 60% of this sugar is marketed in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The remainder is exported to markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Sugar Industry Regulations

The Amendments and the Transitional Provisions to the Constitution of the South African Sugar Association and the Sugar Industry Agreement, 2000 were published on 23 June 2020 in a Notice in the Government Gazette No. 43466 by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic). The provisions are in effect from 1 July 2020 until 31 March 2024 unless further extended by the Minister of the dtic.

Government Gazette No. 43466
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Sugar And The Economy

The South African sugar industry makes an important contribution to the national economy, given its agricultural and industrial investments, foreign exchange earnings, its high employment, and its linkages with major suppliers, support industries and customers. Direct employment within the sugar industry is approximately 85 000 jobs.


Based on revenue generated through sugar sales in the SACU region as well as world market exports, the South African sugar industry generates an annual estimated average direct income of R14 billion. This constitutes R 5.1 billion in value of sugarcane production in South Africa. A large contribution to the country's economy.


The sugar industry provides direct employment in cane production and processing, and indirect employment in numerous support industries in the two provinces where sugarcane is grown and processed, namely KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Indirect employment is estimated at 350 000.
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Where to Find Us?


The Map of Operational Areas provides a detailed view of the location of the mills within the South African sugar industry. The map below will give a you a view of the expanse of the sugar growing region.