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Group Of Colorful Nectarine Fruits From The Market

South Africa looking forward to much improved stone fruit export season

By Jacques du Preez

After a very disappointing 2021/22 season, which despite a good crop turned out to be a disaster on farm level given trade and logistical issues, stone fruit growers and exporters are looking forward to a much-improved offering of South African stone fruit for 2022/23.

From a logistical point of view, supply is expected to be much more stable, reliable and on time given that logistical bottlenecks have been addressed. This will directly lead to SA stone fruit arriving in great condition, as it should.

Also, over the winter period the industry has focused on quality, size and improving the logistical chain. The price/cost squeeze, as experienced globally, is continuing to create pressure on production costs, resulting in a real urgency for the whole value chain to interrogate efficiencies, productivity, and costs.

It has been a relatively dry winter but in general stone fruit growers are expecting a good to above-average stone fruit crop. The area planted to nectarines has continued growing, while peaches and apricots are on the decline. After the extremely poor financial returns of especially plums, it is expected that the area planted for plums will stabilize and might even decline slightly going forward. Several new nectarine and plum orchards that were planted over the last five years will continue to support volume growth and enhance fruit quality and size.

The recent strike in the SA ports is over and the immediate focus is on recovery and removing the backlog from the system as quickly as possible. It has been agreed that perishables will be prioritized in this process and will receive dedicated focus from the range of service providers, including port operations, to ensure a return to timeous delivery of products to the trade.

The stone fruit season is already underway.   Globally, economies are taking great strain and consumer spending is under pressure, but growers are under even more pressure to remain profitable.  Essentially, growers are asking for a fair return to ensure that the livelihoods of those dependent on the industry value chain, can be assured.

This is a make-or-break season for many stone fruit growers who are already under huge financial stress.

South Africa’s initial stone fruit export predictions are as follows:

An increase of 4% each for plums (86,000 tons) and peaches (6,550 tons), organic growth of 15% for nectarines (23,650 tons) and a good, proper apricot season resulting in 9% more exports (3,085 tons).


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