South African deciduous fruit volume to register drop in 2022-23
South African production of apples, pears, and table grapes is estimated to decrease slightly in the 2022-23 Marketing Year. According to a USDA report, this is based mainly on stagnated production area and a return to normal yields following record production for all three commodities.
Last year, apple and pear-producing regions experienced hail storms damaging the crops. On the other hand, the heatwave in January 2023 in the Northern Cape led to table grape losses.
After a decade of constant growth, apple production is expected to flatten in MY 2022-23 to 24,950 hectares (ha) or almost 36 million apple trees, with negligible new planting.
This will represent a fall in apple production of 4%, to 1.15 million metric tons.
According to the report, accelerating farming input costs, high costs of packaging materials and storage costs, high shipping rates, and depressed markets are lowering the profitability of apples and limiting continued investment in crop expansion.
Regarding quality, ongoing shipping delays at the local ports are negatively impacting arrivals at export markets and ultimately lowering returns to growers.
Pears, the third largest deciduous fruit planted in South Africa, has also increased its production volumes, but are expected to flatten in the coming years due to accelerating farming input costs and high shipping rates diminishing the profitability of pear producers, limiting continued investments in the industry.
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Production is expected to be 470,000 million tons in MY 2022-23, which is a 7% decrease from the record 506,200 million tons in MY 2021-22.
Exports, which account for half of all production, are expected to decrease this year. However, the Chinese and Indian markets have been increasing in volume, opening up new opportunities for the industry.
Table grapes are the second largest deciduous fruit crop produced in South Africa, representing almost 30% of the total area under deciduous fruit production.
Between 2012 and 2017, the production area increased by more than 5,000 hectares mainly driven by growing export earnings.
Table grape production in South Africa is projected downwards to 340,000 MT in MY2022-23, after a record crop of 376,015 MT produced in MY 2021-22.