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

Eight countries compete for majority shares of the global raisin market: Australia, Chile, Greece, Iran, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States (USDA, 2021).

South Africa: imports and exports

Europe remains South Africa’s largest foreign market for raisins, accounting for 64% of export market share. Germany is the largest single market for South African raisin exports and accounted for 33% of the total exports in 2020, followed by United Kingdom (10%), Canada (9%), United States (9%), Netherlands (9%), Algeria (8%), France (4%), and Denmark (2%) (USDA, 2021).

Namibia is a traditional exporter of raisins to South Africa since it enjoys duty-free access based on its membership in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Further reference:

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
  • Raisin production in South Africa is concentrated along the Orange River, in the Northern Cape Province, accounting for at least 90 percent of the total annual production. The Western Cape accounts for the remaining 10 percent of production.
  • There are some 1 000 raisin growers and 7 raisin processors in South Africa
  • The COVID-19 lockdown caused some vineyard owners to divert wine grapes to raisin production.
  • Increased local consumption of raisins is atributed to strong demand from the confectionary and baking industry, growth in the health snack food market, the rise in home baking and healthy snacking during the national lockdowns, marketing initiatives by the industry and increased production
Source: Raisin Annual (USDA, 2021)


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


National strategy and government contact

In the Agricultural Policy and Action Plan (APAP) document, dried fruit was 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 www.dalrrd.gov.za
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) 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 www.arc.agric.za In addition to research, training courses are given in the drying of fruit.
  • ARC-Agricultural Engineering (AE) www.arc.agric.za Small-scale fruit and vegetable drying for smallholder farmers
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) www.csir.co.za Included in CSIR programmes is training and demonstration in solar drying and sun drying.
  • Culvedo 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) www.kzndard.gov.za
  • Dried Fruit Technical Services (DFTS) www.hortgro.co.za Short courses, farmers’ days and technical discussions are frequently organised.
  • Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute 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 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 www.hortgro-science.co.za
  • South African Plant Improvement Organisation (SAPO) 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 www.sun.ac.za/foodsci
  • University of Fort Hare Department of Agronomy www.ufh.ac.za

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”.

  • Find the DALRRD booklet/info pak “Solar drying of fruit and vegetables” at www.nda.agric.za/docs/infopaks/solardrying.pdf.
  • 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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