Table of Contents


Also refer to the “Table grapes”, "Berries and exotic fruit" and “Fruit” chapters


1. Overview

Deciduous fruit is comprised of pome fruit and stone fruit.

  • Pome fruit: apples, pears
  • Stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots

Also included in the deciduous fruit category are grapes (see separate chapter), quinces, cherries, Persimmons, pomegranates (see the “Berries and exotic fruit" chapter) and figs.


2. International business environment

Top apple exporting countries: China (15%), Italy 12%, Poland 11%, USA 10%, Chile 8%, SA and France 6%. World’s total fresh apples exports amounts to 8.8 million tonnes (ITC, 2018).

The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline looks at the performance of apples, pears, peaches and nectarines, plums, and apricots on the global market. Find the latest document at

See also:

  • World Apple and Pear Find the list of members for global contacts in deciduous fruit.
  • GOOD FRUIT GROWER – an international fruit magazine. Read about it at


3. Local business environment

Deciduous fruit is grown mainly in the Western Cape and in the Langkloof Valley of the Eastern Cape. Smaller production areas are found elsewhere in the country but mainly along the Orange River and in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Pome fruit

  • The South African pome fruit industry supplied approximately 16.9% of total Southern Hemisphere apple production and 33.3% of total Southern Hemisphere pear production in 2017.
  • Exports currently constitute 44% of domestic apple production, with domestic fresh and processing accounting for 23% and 33% respectively. Pear production is even more export orientated, with exports accounting for 49% of production, whilst the domestic fresh market and processing components constitute 11% and 40% respectively. The domestic fresh and processing market segments are vital in accommodating volumes of suboptimal quality fruit following adverse weather conditions.
Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2018-2027

Stone fruit

  • Within the global stone fruit market, South Africa provides roughly 9.37% of total plum exports, 0.77% of peaches and nectarine exports, and 1.24% of apricot volumes traded internationally (ITC, 2018).
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa is responsible for exporting 36.87% (66 765 tonnes) of plums, 14.17% (17 105 tonnes) of peaches and nectarines, and 62.38% (4 126 tonnes) of apricots.
  • Regarding export, South Africa trails behind Chile, the most prominent competitor of the South African stone fruit industry.
  • Contrary to peaches, nectarines and apricots, significant investment occurred in plum production, with the area expanding by 31% over the past 10 years.
  • The lion’s share of stone fruit export volumes will continue to be attributed to the plum industry, which is projected to reach a level of almost 62 thousand tonnes by 2027.
Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2018-2027

Technical efficiency (like irrigation scheduling, orchard design, etc.) and strategic planning are important to keep farms going. Included in trends and drivers of change to be accommodated are:

  • South Africa is a water stressed country and there is a need to make optimal use of water and for efficiency in irrigation systems. Choice of cultivar when replacing orchards – even choice of enterprise – increasingly important.
  • Keeping an eye on the ratio between the cost of labour and capital (using mechanical equipment like mechanical platforms can help here).
  • The exchange rate plays a vital role in the profitability of farming
  • National and international food safety and environmental legislation and regulations, local and international standards like GLOBALG.A.P. all need to be adhered to.
  • It is important to improve the quality of human capital (education and training of farm workers)
  • The political context (land reform policy, BBBEE)
Source: adapted from previous BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlooks