Craft industry can be boosted

Posted On Thursday, 08 March 2001 03:01 Published by
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THE Western Cape's craft industry could significantly boost its R100 million annual turnover and its workforce of more than 18 000 people by expanding exports to Europe and the USA, says Wesgro,

THE Western Cape's craft industry could significantly boost its R100 million annual turnover and its workforce of more than 18 000 people by expanding exports to Europe and the USA, says Wesgro,
the provincial investment and trade promotion agency.
Further growth opportunities lie in establishing exports to Canada and Australia, where interest
is high, says Wesgro's senior economist, Dr Anders Aeroe.
"Establishing multiple raw material banks, a product marketing agency, live production centres in
township tourism nodes and craft heritage routes in high-density craft production areas are some of
the other steps that can be taken to grow the industry," he says.
Dr Aeroe says a research study of the Western Cape crafts industry, part of a national sector
contributing R3,5 billion annually to the economy, indicates the primary overseas markets include
the UK, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, while the US market is growing steadily, with
the African-American market representing a major opportunity for South African crafts.
"Although there is interest in traditional South African cultural items, more generic handmade
quality products have greater potential for export development.
"Opportunities range from interior design and lifestyle products, through jewellery to designer
apparel and Christmas decorations."
He says the study shows specialised segments of the furniture industry are performing well and some
sophisticated products made from recycled materials are regarded as collectors' items and fetch
high prices.
"Challenges facing craft exporters include issues of quality and price.
Other issues are their capacity to fill high volume orders, meeting delivery deadlines and their
administrative infrastructure.
"Crafters should also adapt their products to international trends while maintaining an indigenous
identity and expand their ranges regularly through the development of new products. "
The study of the Western Cape industry suggests more effort should also go into creating
value-added products for the export market, says Dr Aeroe.
" Nowhere is this more evident than in the dried flower and plant sector. Only once the products
reach their overseas destination is significant value added."
He says the National Arts Council has recently assumed "hands-on" responsibility for implementing
training programmes in product development, production, costing and business administration and for
facilitating access to markets.
"In addition, a Western Cape Craft Sector Partnership is looking to create a craft business centre
as well as training and product development and marketing funds."
The study suggests the craft industry will also benefit from across-the-board co-operation, says
Dr Aeroe.
"Apart from establishing multiple raw material banks, production clusters in the beadwork and
wirework sub-sectors can service the top end of the market through limited editions of highly
designed items. An integrated strategy for market development, focussing on issues such as product
packaging and presentation, marketing support and access to retail outlets is also needed."


Publisher: Cape Business News
Source: Cape Business News

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