South Africa: Tru-Cape to "at least match" 2017 pome fruit volumes

More News Top Stories
South Africa: Tru-Cape to

Leading South African pome fruit exporter Tru-Cape says it is likely to match and maybe even surpass last year's record exports this season, despite forecasts for an industry-wide apple decline of 10%. 

The company's procurement manager Calla du Toit said the national volume decline - revised downward this week from the initial -8% - is mainly due to the drought as well as some isolated hail events in early February.

"We now foresee a 10% decline in volume, and that amounts to 3.5 million cartons of apples and pears combined, which is quite a significant number," he told Fresh Fruit Portal.

He expected fruit sizing "in some cases" might also be under pressure, but said that overall the apple crop looked good. In pears, sizing might also be down for some early varieties, but expectations were high for Forelle in the major growing regions.

"It’s not a bumper [pome fruit] crop, but we are quite happy with the size and the quality at the moment," he said.

"We don’t see any drastic deviations from our estimate if everything goes according to plan. I think it will be an average crop but a good quality crop."

According to du Toit, Tru-Cape's new orchards coming online should enable it to buck the industry trend of declining production this season.

"We believe that our new plantings will help us to at least match our number from last year, but there’s also the possibility that we might even surpass that," he said

"We have a lot of investment into new orchards and that’s all coming into production now"

He explained the final numbers would depend largely on rainfall.

"If we can start getting rain from now until the end of the growing season it will change the whole situation around in a big way, although for some varieties it’s too late," he said.

Bigbucks to "revolutionize" the Gala business

Last week Tru-Cape packed the season's first Bigbucks - a new clone in the Gala family. Expectations are high for the cultivar, which achieves a deep red color early in the growing stage and has an impressive pack out rate. (Photos from the recent harvest can be found below).

"This variety is going to revolutionize the South African Gala business," he said. 

He said current demand for trees from nurseries was "the biggest for any variety that we've ever experienced."

"It's even bigger than Pink Lady in its we believe a lot of the growers will change their standard Gala to Bigbucks."

Tru-Cape will also be marketing its first commercial crop of Envy this year, which du Toit believes has strong prospects for the organization, but he said there were some obstacles for Jazz at the moment.

"Jazz is still a challenge for us as all our growers have a lot of Galas and Goldens, and Jazz is somewhere in between. So unfortunately the timing of the picking is a big of a concern," he said.

"Envy is later and it fits better. Fuji in South Africa is declining and I think Envy will definitely take that space. We are very optimistic about our first harvest which will be this year, and we will probably see our first exports of Envy this year as well."

Conservative approach to EU market

Severe frosts in the Northern Hemisphere spring last year resulted in a significant production decline in European apple production, with major Italian co-op VOG now anticipating a "very early end" to the local campaign. 

But while this situation will likely play into South Africa's favor, du Toit said the company would be going into the season "relatively conservatively".

"We will not be priced too high because it will have a negative impact on sales rate, but if we have a constant flow of fruit with a good sales rate and a fair increase in prices, that’s good enough," he said.

2018 Bigbucks harvest photos


Subscribe to our newsletter