South African stonefruit enters concerned European market

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South African stonefruit enters concerned European market

Initial departures have begun for South African nectarines and peaches destined for the U.K. and continental Europe.

With notably lower volume expected out of South America, South African exporters are reporting strong demand from European buyers in search of new suppliers.

Capespan's Jenine Roux said importers have kept the lines busy with concern that Chile and Argentina will not be able to satisfy their markets.

"[Costumers] they’ve been phoning us because of the freeze damage in Chile. Everyone is phoning South Africa for new varieties and volumes. They are worried about fulfilling their programs on that side. There is a huge demand on stonefruit," the assistant product manager told

Official volume estimates were not yet out at the time of Roux's comments, but she expected overall stonefruit volume out of South Africa to be slightly higher than last year's 15 million boxes.

Dutoit Group's Gysbert du Toit said growing conditions in South Africa had been good so far. He expected a good market for the fruit, especially in light of South American supply concerns.

"The growing conditions have been pretty good. We hope to see it last. I think the biggest challenge for the early fruit being harvested is to get good size on the fruit. From a general quality aspect, it looks pretty promising," he said.

"I think from a market point of view, there are definitely good opportunities despite the fact that Argentina and Chile had setbacks from frost damage. Despite that, we’re still positive about the general market conditions not only in Europe but also in the Far East and Middle East. We’ve got positive expectations."

It was still early in the season to determine the impact on prices, but du Toit estimated that the supply gap could create about a 10% rise in prices out of the U.K. and Europe.

"I see it as an opportunity, especially in the early part to make use of the shorter supply. Hopefully that reflects in prices. I think it will have an influence," he said.

Roux said the true market impact will become clear later in the year, when the South American season picks up with higher volume.

"[There have been] no discussions yet on pricing. They start a little later on nectarines and plums than the South African supply. We will see in later weeks if there is going to be a price difference," Roux said.

Capespan's first sea freight shipment is expected in the U.K. on Nov. 6. Volume will continue to pick up over the coming weeks, with peak supply in mid-December.

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