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.

International business environment

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.
  • 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.


Raisins – some facts
  • South Africa is the 5th largest producer of raisins worldwide, and by far the largest producer in the southern hemisphere.
  • More than 90% of raisins are produced in the Northern Cape.
  • Raisin industry contribution to GDP in 2019 was in the region of R4.1 billion
  • Raisins expanded from 34 856 tons in 1994 to an estimated 74 830 tons in 2019.
  • Raisins support 30 110 jobs in South Africa, including 16 079 unskilled workers
Source: ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij press release, 20 February 2020


Further reference:

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, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) 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.

The benefits of dried fruit production include:


  • A prolonged shelf life, and thus a longer marketing period – which extends fruit availability to all year round.
  • Reduced storage space required, which lowers transportation costs.
  • Low or no refrigeration costs.
  • They are peeled, cut and ready for use by the consumer.
  • The dehydrated value is higher than fresh produce.
  • Good compatibility with other ingredients in dry food mixtures.
  • Prices are more stable than fresh produce prices.

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.
  • Raisins SA Tel: 054 495 0283 http://raisinsa.co.za

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, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance Tel: 012 319 7036 DFSQA [at] dalrrd.gov.za
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115 www.namc.co.za A statutory levy is payable to Raisins South Africa on dried vine fruit (raisins) produced and imported into South Africa. Find details on the NAMC website.
  • Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development www.agrinc.gov.za
  • The Job Funds www.jobsfund.org.za
  • National Development Agency (NDA) www.nda.org.za

Training and research

  • ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100/58 www.arc.agric.za In addition to research, training courses are given in the drying of fruit.
  • ARC-Agricultural Engineering (AE) Tel: 012 842 4017 www.arc.agric.za Small-scale fruit and vegetable drying for smallholder farmers
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Tel: 012 841 2911 www.csir.co.za Included in CSIR programmes is training and demonstration in solar drying and sun drying.
  • Culvedo Tel: 021 888 3487 www.culdevco.co.za A joint venture between the ARC and the deciduous fruit industry to commercialise ARC-bred varieties
  • Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (KwaZulu-Natal) Khangelani Maxwell Mkhathini – 033 343 8090 Khangelani.Mkhathini [at] kzndard.gov.za, Sandile Zulu – 033 355 9690 Sandile.zulu [at] kzndard.gov.za www.kzndard.gov.za
  • Dried Fruit Technical Services (DFTS) Tel: 021 870 2900 www.hortgro.co.za Short courses, farmers’ days and technical discussions are frequently organised.
  • Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute Tel: 021 808 5111 www.elsenburg.com Dried Fruit is part of the Diploma at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, Stellenbosch. Training covers the whole fruit production process: planting, pruning, irrigation, fertilisation, pest- and disease management, harvesting, and drying of the crop.
  • FoodBev Tel: 011 253 7300 www.foodbev.co.za FOODBEV is the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) responsible for facilitating education and training in the food and beverages manufacturing sector
  • Hortgro Science Tel: 021 882 8470 www.hortgro-science.co.za
  • South African Plant Improvement Organisation (SAPO) Tel: 021 887 6823 www.saplant.co.za A specialist plant improvement organisation owned by deciduous fruit growers through Hortgro Services, the Canning Fruit Producers Association, the Dried Fruit Technical Services and South African Table Grapes.
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Food Science Tel: 021 808 3578 www.sun.ac.za/foodsci
  • University of Fort Hare Department of Agronomy Mr MD Brutsch Tel: 040 602 2131/2069

Companies involved




Packers / marketers



Websites and publications

Visit the websites and publications referred to earlier in the chapter, specifically under the earlier heading “For the newcomer”.

  • Refer to the ARC Agricultural Engineering publications on adding value to fruit e.g. Agro-processing of Deciduous fruit (Apples, apricots, grapes, pears, plums, peaches, figs) and Agro-processing of Subtropical Fruit(Avocado, bananas, figs, guava, kiwifruit, litchi, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple) (see “Agro-processing” chapter). Call 012 842 4017 or email stoltze [at] arc.agric.za.
  • Find the notes on drying mangoes at www.mango.co.za.
  • Brett, A, Cox, D.R.S., Simmons, R. & Anstee, G. 1996. “Producing Solar Dried Fuit and Vegetables for micro and small-scale Rural Enterprise Development”. Handbook 3: Practical Aspects of Processing. Chatham, UK: Natural Resources Institute.


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