South Africa may lobby EU over broken stone classification
EU regulations currently allow up to 10% of fruit in class 1 category to have broken stones, but above this level means the produce is recategorized as class 2, which supermarkets won’t accept.
Hortgro product manager Jacques du Preez said fruit with broken stones was perfectly good quality and didn’t present a food safety issue.
“We have had numerous feedback from retailers and they don’t have a problem with broken stones,” he said.
However, this season some European supermarkets imposed higher standards even than the E.U. rejecting fruit which had between 0-5% of broken stones.
Du Preez said South Africa’s internal controls to meet EU standards are strictly enforced by the Perishable Products Export Control Board.
Meanwhile, agronomist Jordi Casas from Chilean exporter Frusan told www.freshfruitportal.com his company only ever sent stonefruit to Europe at a maximum of 2% with broken stones.
“In our case we want to supply the market by going in with stonefruit that have harder stones,” he said.
“That’s why it is good to have newer varieties like Double Dandy apricots and Constanza plums, as well as others that have good post harvest life, which means you can achieve the best prices.
“For growers with new varieties they have had two quality of higher productivity and good size, but the most important thing is that the variety is good for post harvest, so it’s best to have a combination of these three things.”
He noted the European market was much more contracted and that consumers in genereal had become more demanding, in terms of fruit quality, taste and also pesticide issues.
He said growers were producing stonefruit with very good productivity levels of around 4,000 8.2kg (18lbs) cartons.
“If the varieties didn’t produce at this level I think that they would not be profitable.”
Related stories: SA stonefruit exports lose US$165.8M due to new European rules