Over the past ten years, Hortgro’s pome and stone fruit growers have strategically invested in key export markets through continuous long-term market development campaigns. These efforts aim to put South African deciduous fruit firmly in the saddle as a world player in the international fruit industry arena. It also entails the ongoing evaluation of activities and focus areas. In this regard, the pome fruit industry requested a reprioritisation of funds towards trade-related and market access activities that have already been implemented.
According to Jacques du Preez, Hortgro Trade & Markets Manager the ongoing efforts to build positive and mutually-beneficial relationships with overseas retailers and traders are worth every cent that is being invested.
“It has positioned South Africa as a strong contender for the ‘preferred supplier’ title worldwide,” he said. There is a growing positivity about South African fruit and we are seen as a supplier of excellent quality, safe fruit that is also sustainably and ethically produced.”
Du Preez spoke during a recent information day held by Hortgro’s market development campaign team in Stellenbosch.
Changes in world events effect trade, relationships, economics and social opinion. “Good examples are the effect that Trump, Brexit, and the current EU crisis have on us, directly and indirectly.”
Du Preez said that although there were many unstable factors to take into account, there were also definite opportunities for the fruit industry such as regaining a footprint in France with the right kind of high-quality fruit.
“It is important that we self-regulate where necessary and protect our own interest. Quality and consistency of the product are how we should brand South African deciduous fruit. We should make sure that we maintain our reputation for excellence as a responsible supplier of safe and high-quality fruit with a great taste experience.”
Some of the challenges include continuous pressure on the use of chemicals, ethical labour practices, the use of plastics, climate change, protectionism and unstable world politics.
John Valentine from Red Communication said that UK buying trends are influenced by local and international politics as well as social activists. “The ‘buy local’ mindset has had a big impact on UK consumers and this trend has been especially true for top fruit.”
On a positive note, Pink Ladies saw in July the highest-ever monthly sales and shipments of South African apples to the UK market have risen by 20 percent during the 2018 season. Cumulative volumes of the fruit to the week ending July 1st, 2018, showed a total of 4.21 million 12.5 carton equivalents were shipped, up from 3.37m at the same point in the previous season, according to Hortgro statistics.
Michael Roos, from Roos PR, said that in a social media survey German consumers’ number one information need about products was whether the fruit was produced sustainably. “For German consumers ‘how farm workers were being treated on farms’ was more important than price and taste.” According to Roos, another interesting trend was that the German organic market for the first time broke through the 10bn threshold.
Local market experts Les Nel and Ruth Behr gave an overview of the local and informal market challenges and successes. Nel said that poor questionable quality fruit affected domestic trade and that eating quality is of paramount importance in order for local consumption to increase and the market to grow to its potential.
According to Behr the informal market campaign for stone fruit fared well considering that this was a difficult market segment to reach. “To make an impact with informal traders building relationships is important, as well as educating traders about products, handling and food safety. Marketing materials were used to attract customers and team members supported traders via WhatsApp groups, and regular visits,” said Behr.
Find more information about the international and local marketing campaigns here: