Asia could take "significantly more South African fruit", says CGA chief
Asia's most populous nations still have room for more South African citrus, particularly oranges, but more work is still needed to overcome challenges such as achieving mutual recognition with Indonesian authorities and finding the right partners in India.
This is the view of Citrus Growers Association (CGA) of Southern Africa CEO Justin Chadwick, who recently returned home from a visit to Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong with the Fruit South Africa delegation. The group also visited India and Indonesia.
"The general impression is that these are markets that could take significantly more South African fruit," Chadwick said in a CGA newsletter.
"The markets are not without challenges, and will take some time to develop to their full potential; the goal of the trip was to remove hurdles facing South African exporters, clarify import conditions (phytosanitary, sanitary, labelling etc.), determine opportunities, foster cooperation, exchange information, develop relationships and determine infrastructure limitations."
The executive commended South African fruit exporters who were currently shipping to the markets in question.
"South African fruit (including citrus) was visible in all these markets, and the traders spoke highly of their export partners in South Africa," he said.
"Developing these markets and the relationships that sustain long term trade takes an immense amount of time and money; travelling away from family in sometimes uncomfortable conditions for weeks on end."
Chadwick said an assessment for mutual recognition by Indonesian authorities had been completed, but a verification visit needed to take place. However, a date has not been set as the new government is yet to be sworn in.
"The timing will be clearer after October once the cabinet has been finalised," Chadwick said.
"Mutual Country Recognition should open the doors for South African fruit to move through the port of Jakarta, and reduce the requirements in terms of certification and documentation.
"A visit to the importers confirmed what we all know – we could have sold our lemon crop a couple of times over in 2014. In addition there is a market for additional orange volumes."
Chadwick highlighted three take home messages from India as well, which were not to try to reduce tariffs, make sure you export robust fruit and find a reliable local partner.
"Do not waste time and energy on trying to address the high tariffs on fresh fruit; competing countries that ship fruit greater distances than South Africa to India face the same tariffs and are growing their trade," the executive said.
"Although the cold chain is developing, there is limited cold chain infrastructure. But more than that – once fruit leaves the formal supply chain it faces some harsh conditions.
"Those who are presently in India know the value of dealing with a reliable local partner. That partner can smooth over problems on arrival, monitor quality, monitor the market (competing products) and ensure product integrity until sold. Do good credit checks before settling on a partner."