Stonefruit season looking peachy for South Africa

Featured Top Stories Top Stories
Stonefruit season looking peachy for South Africa

South Africa's peak deciduous fruit body expects a slight rise in stonefruit exports this year, driven by higher volumes for apricots and nectarines.

Hortgro Services production manager Jacques du Preez, told the weather has been good in the lead up to the season, creating expectations that nectarine shipments will grow 12% to 2.8 million cartons, or a total of around 7,000 metric tons (MT).

"It’s still very early to tell but if you take into account the weather, the rain and so forth, it’s looking good in terms of size and quality," he says

"Anything can happen as you know in stonefruit, but we’re hopeful for good eating quality and good cosmetic quality. This applies to all stonefruit as they’re grown in the same areas and exposed to the same kind of conditions."

He says apricot shipments are set to rise 2% to 900,000 cartons, or the equivalent of more than 4,000MT. The industry expects similar peach and plum volumes at one million cartons (2,500MT) and 9.37 million cartons (21,083MT) respectively, but the timing dynamic is changing for the latter.

"There’s been a big shift in plums to the later African Delight variety; there's been a lot of that planted in the last three years and we expect in the next five years that will become our third-largest variety.

"Over the past five years we’ve increased the spread from the start to the middle to the end of the season.

Photo: FPEF

"But we must be careful as if it’s too late you run into the Chilean volumes."

Du Preez highlights a growing shift to new markets, but Europe will remain the industry's most important export destination even if there is a double-dip recession.

"The market trend over the past few years that will continue is specifically more exports to the Middle and Far East. There’s quite a bit of growth there, but the U.K. remains one of our pillars of stability so that’s important, as well as continental Europe," he says.

"You hear there could be a possible double dip and a global recession, but there’s nothing we can do about that and we’re going to continue to ship stonefruit.

"Last time it didn’t relate as badly as everyone thought it would, so if we have a second recession the effect on fruit won’t be that bad."

Arrival expectations

He says Laetitia and Sun Gold remain the most significant plum varieties, with a long season in store that will last from week 45 in mid-November until week 14 at the beginning of April.

Photo: FPEF

The apricot season is much shorter, starting in week 45 in November until week 50 just before Christmas.

"In terms of arrivals you have two weeks so from mid-November to Christmas you’ll see apricots on the shelves."

The nectarine shipment season will kick off in the beginning of November with large volumes expected in mid-January, with exports continuing through to week 10 in mid-February, but in small volumes.

Du Preez adds peach shipments will start in November and continue until mid-January.

Subscribe to our newsletter