Good export prospects for South African apple and pears

Hortgro, South Africa’s deciduous fruit grower organisation, looks forward to the start of a promising top fruit season as apples and pears start to arrive in the UK.

The 2021 marketing campaign, now in its 13th year, is focussing predominantly on targeting the trade and consumers through industry publications and social media, alongside new recipes.

Jacques du Preez, Hortgro General Manager for Trade & Markets, comments on this year’s top fruit harvest: “Overall, everything looks very good so far. There were no excessive heat waves as in previous seasons resulting in almost no sunburn. The cooler nights have also contributed to very good colour development.”

It is currently estimated that for the 2021 season, the top fruit industry will see a 4% increase from last year in South African apple exports to 38.25 million cartons, with a 20% increase for the Cripps Red apple variety in particular. HORTGRO reports a 6% increase in pear exports to 17.8 million cartons, with an estimated 6% increase in the most exported variety, Packham’s Triumph.

These above-average volumes of South African apples and pears are mainly driven by young orchards coming into production, and more favourable weather conditions throughout the winter and summer.

Since November last year HORTGRO has been engaging the stakeholders involved in specifically the Cape Town port to address shipping delays. Du Preez says: “There are newly established weekly forums with the other fruit industries, other relevant port authorities, shipping lines, exporters and logistics service providers where the logistical issues are addressed.” The global shortage of empty containers however remains a challenge with some relief expected from the end of April.

Du Preez also explains that the South African fruit industry has adapted well in being able to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Originally, there were some additional costs and it caused great uncertainty, but the industry and consumers adapted quickly to the new environment. Fruit growers are used to new challenges and adaptations, although this was a big one,” comments Du Preez.

On the upswing, Covid-19 amplified the importance of health and eating a healthy diet. Although it is still too early to compare 2021 consumption with 2020, there is a relatively healthy demand for fresh produce. “Last year’s sales of fruit and vegetables increased significantly, and the feeling is that this trend will spill over into this year. But consumer spending is under pressure so it will remain a challenge.

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