South African apple exports to Middle East climbing in 2012

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South African apple exports to Middle East climbing in 2012

South African apple exports so far this season are showing a 5% year-on-year rise, while shipments to the Middle East are up 15%.

Hortgro's product manager Jacques du Preez, said increased shipments to the Middle East and the Far East were part of a strategy to avoid Europe, which the industry regards as high risk.

"We are being very careful about Europe and we are selling more in the Far and Middle East and Africa. Apple stocks are very high so we had to start planning about where to sell fruit. We had other options to go to."

The U.K. still remains a major market accounting for 32% of shipments so far this year, slightly up on 2011 in contrast to Europe's overall drop.

Exports to the U.K. are expected to continue to increase given domestic supply is predicted to be down by more than 65% due to rain, hail and severe cold at nights during April and early May.

The Far East is also becoming increasingly important, commanding 23% of export market share so far this year.

West Africa is also a significant destination accounting for 17% of market share to date but with this figure expected to increase towards the end of the season.

South Africa's apples have all gone to cold storage with the Cripps varieties among the last to be harvested and exports continuing until January.

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