South Africa forecasts "tough" season for pome fruit returns

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South Africa forecasts

A South African industry body has forecast apple exports to rise slightly and pear volumes to remain flat this coming season, while also warning of a challenging campaign for profitability due to currency exchange rate issues. 

The South African Apple and Pear Producers' Association (SAAPPA) estimated apple exports would grow 3% year-on-year to 34,940,469 cartons equivalent to 12.5 kilograms each, while pear shipments are expected to end up almost exactly the same as last year at 17,846,200 cartons.

"A normal pome fruit season is anticipated despite drought conditions affecting certain production areas. Although initially fruit size is slightly smaller than expected, the overall eating quality (including sugar content) is very good," the organization said.

"In general colour development and cosmetic pack-outs looks promising at this stage. The harvesting season commenced roughly a week later compared with the previous season."

The organization said the increase in apple volumes is mainly driven by new plantings and young orchards coming into production. The main varieties contributing to the growth are Fuji (+7%), Royal Gala (+3%), and Golden Delicious (+2%).

It also noted that pear volumes were expected to be in line with last year despite growth in plantings over the last couple of years.

"A decrease in export volumes of William Bon Chretien (-16%) is expected due to smaller fruit size, a good demand from the canning industry and a lack in demand from the Northern Hemisphere importing countries," it said.

"On the other hand, export volumes of Packham's Triumph (+3%), Forelle (+3%) and Abate Fetel (+5) are expected to increase compared to the previous season."

The strengthening of the South African rand against the U.S. dollar, British pound and the euro also means that a "tough season in terms of grower returns and profitability levels is anticipated."


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