SA gets green light to ship to Thailand and South Korea

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SA gets green light to ship to Thailand and South Korea

South African citrus producers hope to ship to Thailand and South Korea this season as both countries have now approved their export protocols.

The communiqué about Thailand comes after a decade of trying to gain access to the Thai market.

Citrus Growers Association (CGA) chief executive Justin Chadwick, said South Africa had been on the verge of gaining import approval on two occasions only to have draft protocols fall by the wayside with a regime change.

His organization will now be campaigning to get the 40% Thai import tax reduced, given Australia doesn't pay any tariffs on oranges and will have a phase out for mandarin tariffs by 2015.

The announcement that South Korea has also accepted protocols for lemons and grapefruit is especially welcome, given growers are struggling this year with vast quantities of smaller-sized grapefruits.

Cape Citrus general manager Scott Dowle said the opening of any new market was a positive development.

"We have a lot of small sized grapefruit and the traditional markets can only take so much. There has been a higher percentage of small fruit going to juice and at the end of the day growers don't grow to send fruit to juice."

He added that while initial taxes might be high this didn't necessarily make the market unattractive.

"We are in a healthy production scenario. It's in our interests to get the tariffs down. The trick of the trade is how to use this opportunity to our greatest benefit.

Everseason marketing manager Stiaan Engelbrecht said he would be looking into whether it was a good market to supply or not.

"We will have to see what the tariffs are. Sometimes it's still viable if the market price makes up for it."

Kat River Citrus Primary chairman Jock Dankwerts said he would be exploring whether the countries were worth entering.

"I will certainly look into it. High tariffs are fine if you can sell for a high price. Obviously, I will be trying to keep abreast with things."

The CGA estimates grapefruit exports this season will be 22% less than the original forecast of 15.2 million 15 kilogram cartons.

South Africa's reduced supply is not unique, with Florida and Cyprus shipping less to Europe and static Turkish supply, according to market data. Only Spain and Israel have shown modest increases, which means returns for averaged-sized fruit is good.

CGA reported that in week 20 Japan had just 349,000 cartons, a record low figure with the previous lowest quantity 817,000 cartons in 2005.

The CGA has asked producers intending to ship to Thailand to get in touch and has asked exporters to visit the South Korean Animal, Plant and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency (QIA) website to gain import details.

Related stories: SA growers gear up for South Korean citrus exports

South African citrus growers welcome Thai inspectors

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