South African growers pushing pears to processing

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South African growers pushing pears to processing

Many South African growers will be sending their early maturing Williams Bon Chretien pears to canning factories instead of risking low returns with European exports.

A massive oversupply of Conference and Abate Fetel varieties in the Northern Hemisphere means producers are looking elsewhere to shift volumes.

Delecta Fruit marketing manager Gert Marais told that Europe had enough existing supplies of Conference pears to last it until the end of April.

"The Conference and Abate Fetel crop was a record one and they are still sitting on stock. Our fruit would compete with their poor quality late stock, which would affect our prices in a negative way," he said.

He added many growers would be sending Williams pears straight to processing factories.

"The canning industry will pay better than we expected and the risk of sending pears to Europe is too high."

Du Toit Group marketing manager Gysbert du Toit, agreed and said there would be certain varieties, such as Williams, that his company would not be sending to Europe.

"If you want to be conservative and want to avoid risk on the fresh market then canning factories are an option."

He said his company would only be selling fruit to Europe where it was sure there were potential buyers, but there was access to different markets.

"We are optimistic and we aren't panicking. You have to take things as they come. There are certain varieties you can only export to Europe such as Doyenne du Cornice and Abate Fetel. However, with the other varieties we aren't nervous at all."

He said other African countries were an important market, as was the Middle and Far East, and to a more limited extent the U.S.

Apples, however, do not face the same fate and du Toit was upbeat about the coming crop, describing it as good quality and likely to exceed the previous season in volumes.

"We had a good cold winter which is important for apples. The apple trade, in general, is less of a worry than the pear trade."

Related stories: Pear oversupply in Europe poses SA export challenge


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