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.
  • 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.

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.

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.

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 A levy of 18c per kilogram for all dried tree fruits, and 12c per kilogram for all dried vine fruits applies until 2019/20.

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.
  • 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

Equipment

Packers / marketers

Others

Websites and publications

Visit the websites and publications referred to earlier in the chapter, specifically under heading 4.

  • 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.
  • Find a report on raisins in China here. China is the third largest producer after the USA and Turkey (USDA, 2016).
  • An issue of the DAFF-NAMC International Tradeprobe (September 2014) ran a report on dried grapes (raisins). It ranked South Africa sixth, globally as a producer. Find the publication at www.namc.co.za.

Sources for this chapter: Wikipedia; Dried fruit Technical Services (DFTS), the mentioned websites.

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