The South African animal feed industry came into being in the early 1930s when South Africa endured extreme hardship under the severe droughts and depression.

These circumstances stimulated scientific thoughts on the feeding of farm animals and consequently alternative feeding systems were developed. The use of offal/by-products of other industries came into place, such as wheaten bran, groundnut, offal and brewer’s grain. Feed mills were erected in close proximity to these "sources" and rail networks.

In 1935 Lion Bridge, a feed manufacturer in Pretoria during that time, installed the first 5-tonne electric feed mixer and others soon followed.

The Balanced Feed Manufacturers Association was established in 1945 after the need was identified for a structured industry body taking care of the industry's interests and being the official mouthpiece of the feed industry to liaise with, inter alia, the government, when necessary. The Association was very involved in various aspects of the feed industry and at some stages even imported raw materials for feed manufacturing.

In 1988 the Association's name was changed to the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA), as it is known today. It was registered as a Section 21 company, not for financial gain. In 1990 the resolution was taken by the AFMA AGM to use "AFMA" as the official acronym for both Afrikaans and English.

Since then, the acronym AFMA has become a household name with people and institutions that are involved in the feed and related industries. Based on its track record and enquiries received from all across the globe, AFMA is widely known in the livestock and related animal feed industries.

AFMA's quarterly industry magazine (AFMA Matrix), its annual technical showcase (AFMA Symposium)and the triennial international congress (AFMA Forum) are sustained efforts and platforms created for liaison and interaction to make contact with industry role players, suppliers, service providers, related agriculture role players and other similar associations, in which membership of the International Feed Industries Federation (IFIF) plays a major role in this regard.

Since 1935, production in the formal feed industry (AFMA members) gradually increased from 3.9 million tons in 1997–98 to 4 million tons in 2001–02, 4.3 million tons in 2004–05 and 4.7 million tons in 2006–07. The gross turnover value of this feed was estimated at R8.3 billion at that time. The total national feed production during 2015–16 was estimated at 11.7 million tons, of which AFMA members produced 61%. The national gross turnover value of the total feed production is calculated at an estimated R50 billion per annum.