SA stonefruit posted higher exports but prices stayed flat -

SA stonefruit posted higher exports but prices stayed flat

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SA stonefruit posted higher exports but prices stayed flat

South African had a record season for nectarines exporting nearly 3.5 million boxes so far - a 36% year-on-year export rise, although prices remained flat, reported producers organization Hortgro.

The U.K. was the main import market accounting for more than half of exports, followed by the Middle East and continental Europe.

Production manager Jacques du Preez said prices were good until week 48 when higher volumes led to lower returns.

"Prices were a little less than last year. We exported 800,000 more cartons this year than last which was substantial," he said.

He estimated that within the next three to five years South Africa would be exporting an extra 1.5 million boxes (2.5 kilogram) of nectarines.

"We have a lot of new orchards with have been planted and they are not all in full production yest. There are a lot of new cultivars which are also stretching the season."

However, despite good stonefruit volumes with apricots posting a 46% year-on-year export rise, du Preez described the season as more difficult than expected.

"It has been an extremely challenging year in terms of marketing. Initial prices were good but then prices came under pressure when the exchange rate turned, then there was cold weather in Europe and the heatwave in South Africa at the end of January caused some quality issues."

He said that temperatures of 45 degrees centigrade or more had affected plums negatively with internal quality problems of browning and cell break down.

However, plum export volumes appear to be picking up with the closing season expected to be just 1-2% less than the previous year's record 9.2 million boxes (5.25 kilogram).

du Preez said  91% of estimated plum exports had been inspected with shipments expected to close within the next few weeks.

Hortgro had originally forecast that this season's plum exports would be 5% lower than the previous one.

Related stories: Oppenheimer upbeat on South African stonefruit season

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