South Africa welcomes growth on U.S. citrus market
As the South African citrus industry approaches its 15th season on the U.S. market, exporters could be in store for a number of trade and protocol developments.
Industry representatives, including the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) met with U.S. importers and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the Western Cape Citrus Producers’ Forum, where attendees praised the growing opportunities for citrus traders.
U.S. consul general to Cape Town, Erica Barks-Ruggles, described the considerable growth experienced by citrus since the signing of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000.
"Just to give you one example of the growing benefits AGOA confers on South Africa, consider fresh oranges. Exports of oranges from South Africa to the United States hit a new record in 2013, with nearly US$57 million in sales or over 39,000 metric tons in exports," Barks-Ruggles told forum attendees.
"This is a 40% jump in value and a 25% increase in quantity compared to 2009, and two orders of magnitude (nearly 800 percent) increase since the program started in 1999."
Barks-Ruggles also highlighted job growth in South Africa's citrus industry, citing a successful partnership with the U.S.
"It is estimated that the development of the U.S. market for summer citrus has generated 20,000 permanent jobs in those areas approved for shipment to the United States and up to 80,000 temporary positions supporting as many as 120,000 South Africans families. Citrus exports put South Africans to work: that is the real benefit of programs like this one," she said.
Prior to the forum, DAFF met with the USDA to discuss the more technical details of the export program.
DAFF plant health director, Alice Baxter, told www.freshfruitportal.com that the deparment was still finalizing its minutes from the meeting but planned to make an official statement soon on plans for the U.S. market.
In his weekly newsletter, CEO Justin Chadwick of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern African said the talks could result in a reduced cold treatment period of 22 days, although official sources could not yet provide confirmation.
"In the bilateral the officials hammered out the basis for a pilot project that, if successful, could herald a review of the present cold treatment requirements. The bilateral also covered the use of southern ports in the US, and access for other regions in South Africa," Chadwick said in the newsletter.