SA peaches prove a hit in the Middle East

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SA peaches prove a hit in the Middle East

South African peach exports to the Middle East have shown a 30% rise this season to date, but shipments are down to continental Europe and the U.K.

In the season to week 46 (Nov. 20), the Middle East has imported 93,000 cartons (232 MT), the U.K. intakes have fallen by 5% to 150,00 cartons (375 MT) and continental Europe's arrivals have dropped 22% to 42,000 cartons (105 MT)

Hortgro production manager Jacques du Preez, has told these figures were good news.

"The Middle East has become one of our biggest markets for peaches and for plums and nectarines - it's a growing market," he says.

Du Preez highlights one of the advantage of the Middle Eastern market is that buyers give a better indication of price beforehand.

"You have more security with the loyal customers. They agree on the price upfront on a fixed contract," he explains.

"Some other markets you ship things and four to five weeks later you know what you are getting."

Fruit-by-fruit stats

Peaches are hitting peak harvesting time in South Africa and exports are estimated to show a 15% year-on-year rise this season hitting 2,860 metric tons (MT).

Nectarines exports are also expected to be up this season by 13% to 7,165 MT.

"We have had some challenging weather conditions over the last few weeks - there have been some cold spells and some rain but so far we haven't had any real negative affects," says du Preezb

"The quality of the fruit took a little longer to reach optimum sugar level."

Apricots too are just about to hit peak harvesting with yields for this season expected to be 11% higher at 4,659 MT.

The plum season has only just started but du Preez is pleased new varieties such as African Rose - which had small export volumes last year - were so far up to 50,000 cartons (255 MT).

"The range of varieties we are supplying are increasing on a seasonal basis. We have 35 different varieties this year," said du Preez.

However, opening prices for early plum varieties African Rose and Pioneer were weak.

The tough economic climate in Europe coupled with a weaker rand, currently 10-15% lower than this time last year, is perceived as among the reasons for poor prices.

South Africa's stonefruit exports for this season are expected to show an overall  4% year-on-year rise to 493, 568 cartons.

Currently, the U.K. accounts for 64% of all stonefruit imports, the E.U. 21% and the Middle East 12%.

Related stories: SA to take on Chile with tougher plum competition

Stonefruit season looking peachy for South Africa


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