Dried fruit is fruit that has been dried, either naturally or through use of a machine, such as a food dehydrator. Raisins, prunes and dates are examples of popular dried fruits. Other fruits such as apples, apricots, bananas, cranberries, figs, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, strawberries and tomatoes may also be dried.
Drying preserves fruit, even in the absence of refrigeration, and significantly lengthens its shelf life. When fresh fruit is unavailable, impractical, or out of season, dried fruit can provide an alternative. It is often added to baking mixes and breakfast cereals.
The global increase in health consciousness has benefited the South African raisin industry.
The benefits of dried fruit production include:
2. International business environment
- Find international updates and news at www.fas.usda.gov/commodities/dried-fruit and www.fas.usda.gov/data/raisins-world-markets-and-trade.
- Visit the website of the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation (INC) at www.nutfruit.org.
3. Local business environment
- Dried fruit is produced mainly in the Western Cape, the Southwestern Districts, Northern Cape, the Little Karoo, the Olifants River area and the Lower and Upper Orange River area. Apricots are mainly produced in the Little Karoo. Prunes are grown almost exclusively in the Tulbagh district in the Western Cape. Most raisins are produced along the Lower Orange River. Currants come from the Vredendal district. Tree fruit, as opposed to vine fruit, is dried mainly in the Western Cape and the Southwestern districts.
- Dried fruit production is labour-intensive.
- The Agri Processing Index (API) developed by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in 2015 ranked the potential of some 130 different products, measuring employment potential, production performance and global market growth. Dried Fruit made it onto the Top 20 products list, showing the potential of backing this product (BFAP, 2015).
- Both the local marketing and exporting of dried fruit are free from government intervention. However, in the case of exports, phytosanitary requirements and quality standards must be adhered to.
4. For the newcomer
“South African rural farmers produce a number of different fruits, such as mango, litchi, citrus, banana, avocado, macadamia, apples, peaches, plums and pears and vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, onions, carrots and tomatoes. These products are subjected to postharvest losses or at time of use most of the nutrients have vanished.” Khangelani Mkhathini’s doctoral thesis, which can be downloaded at efwe.ukzn.ac.za/Libraries/ResearchSeminars/Mkhathini_KM.sflb.ashx, includes a look at the use of drying technologies.
Find the document “Postharvest food drying technique using a solar tunnel dryer” by Khangelani Mkhathini and Sandile Zulu (Research & Technology 2015/23) on www.kzndard.gov.za. Environmental conditions do not always allow for open sun drying. A solar tunnel dryer can be constructed “from locally available materials at a relatively low capital cost and there are no fuel costs”.
Find the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) booklet Solar drying of fruit and vegetables at www.nda.agric.za/docs/solar/solardrying.htm. The process of preparing fresh produce, the drying process itself, many recipes and more is looked at.
5. Associations involved
- Agri Northern Cape Tel: 053 832 9595 For dried fruit matters, farmers contact Johannes Fourie. Details at http://agrink.co.za/en/commodities/
- Agri Western Cape Tel: 021 860 3800 www.growinggreatness.co.za
- Dried Fruit Technical Services (DFTS) Tel: 021 870 2900 www.hortgro.co.za DFTS is an umbrella association representing the dried deciduous fruit producers and dried fruit packers. Housed within HORTGRO, it co-ordinates research and development in the dried fruit industry.
6. National strategy and government contact
In the Agricultural Policy and Action Plan (APAP) document, dried fruit is included in the discussion on the fruit and vegetable value chain.
- Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance Tel: 012 319 7036 DFSQA [at] daff.gov.za
- National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115 www.namc.co.za
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