Southern Hemisphere fruit export value rose in 2020 despite volume dip

Southern Hemisphere fruit export value rose in 2020 despite volume dip

Southern Hemisphere fresh fruit exporters came together to speak about the challenges faced last season, how that translates into the current season and how the industry is still optimistic by focusing on opportunities for this year.

With more than 600 participants in attendance, the first-ever Southern Hemisphere Fresh Fruit Trade Congress organized by the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (Shaffe) reflected on the past year and what is to come.

The eight countries make up Shaffe - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Uruguay and South Africa - each had a delegate speaker in attendance at the conference.

The countries together account for almost a quarter of the global fruit supply and exported 9.8 million metric tons (MMT) of fresh fruit in 2020. Although this was a decrease of 8 percent year-on-year, the value of shipments saw an increase of 5 percent to $14.6 billion.

“This is a very positive result of a season that has been extremely challenging,” Shaffe Secretary General Nelli Hajdu said.

As the association continues to play an active role in the future, it has launched a three-year strategy with goals including better training, improved resources available to members and plans to strengthen collaboration with other organizations to face key industry issues.

Looking to China, shipments have increased by 90 percent from 2016, and it was the top destination for exports last year worth $2.5 billion which showed the fresh fruit industry the growing importance of the market.

In order to understand each other better in terms of quality and business development, Hajdu announced a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Chamber of Commerce of Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-products (CFNA).

Within this partnership, a statistical yearbook, further statistical data and an annual cooperation workshop will be developed between the organizations.

Charif Christian Carvajal, President of Shaffe, spoke about some of the challenges and opportunities that this next season will bring including water scarcity versus heavy rains, seasonal workers, the impacts of the pandemic, logistics and shipping constraints among others. 

Each country is seeing specific areas of growth such as organics in Argentina, cherries in Chile, new cultivars in Peru and tropical fruit in Brazil among others.

When looking at these challenges, however, optimism within the sector remains very high according to a survey conducted by Shaffe noting that almost 70 percent of participants see the outlook for the 2020-21 season as “good” or “excellent”.

Seeing the results of market access challenges that the industry currently faces, logistical delays and Covid-19 related issues were at the top, followed by domestic protectionism in destination markets from calls to eat locally.

However, participants responded to the perception of the fruit industry in their specific countries with 80 percent either as “good” or “excellent”.

Carvajal also shared that health trends and e-commerce are perceived as major growth areas and that sustainability is no longer seen as an optional area and instead as required compliance.

Ending his presentation, Carvajal said: “The organization at the end of the day is only as good and proactive as its members, and in this sense, we are honored to have such a valuable membership base composed of extraordinary representatives”.