Deciduous fruit is comprised of pome fruit and stone fruit.
- Pome fruit: apples, pears
- Stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots
International business environment
- Top pear producing countries: China, EU, USA, Argentina, Turkey and South Africa (USDA, 2020).
- Top pear exporting countries: China, Argentina, EU, South Africa, USA and Chile (USDA, 2020).
- The top processors of pears are China, EU, USA, Argentina, South Africa and Russia (USDA, 2020).
- Top apple producing countries: China, EU, USA, Turkey, India and Iran (USDA, 2020).
- Top apple exporting countries: EU, China, USA, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand (USDA, 2020).
- The top processors of apples are EU, China, USA, Russia, Chile and South Africa (USDA, 2020).
- World Apple and Pear Association – www.wapa-association.org. Find the list of members for global contacts in deciduous fruit. Nicholas Dicey, chairman of Hortgro, is currently president (congratulations to you, sir!)
- Read the latest Fresh Plaza overviews of pome and stone markets at www.freshplaza.com
- 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 www.bfap.co.za.
- The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service includes deciduous fruit in its circulars. See www.fas.usda.gov/commodities/deciduous-fruit.
- GOOD FRUIT GROWER – an international fruit magazine. Read about it at www.goodfruit.com.
South Africa: imports and exports
A breakdown of where South Africa’s fruit exports go is provided in the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF)’s Exporter Directory available at www.fpef.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FPEF-Export-Directory-2020.pdf.
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, most noticeably along the Orange River and in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
- More than 90% of apples and pears are produced in the Western Cape. Pome fruit production hectares and volumes have been under pressure over the last couple of years because of the drought.
- The greatest challenge for South Africa on the international front is red tape and tariff barriers, rather than improvements on farm and pack-house level.
- South Africa is the 2nd largest exporter of both apples and pears in the Southern Hemisphere, and 6th and 5th in the world, respectively.
Despite a 12% smaller apple harvest in 2018, exports held steady and the year-on-year decline was only 6%. Total revenue actually increased by 16.6% during the same period.
- Exports now have an almost perfectly balanced split between UK and EU (31%), Africa (29%), and Far East and Asia (27%). The projection for the next 10 years is that this trend into Africa will continue, with apples able to withstand the challenges of time on the road in Africa.
- Pears followed the same pattern: total production was down by 11%, exports decreased by 3%, but on the net realisation from exports, revenue increased by 9.3% – close to levels of the 2016 season. Europe remains the most important market for South African pear exports, not only in terms of volume, but also in the revenue realised from it.
Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2019-2028
- The Western Cape drought has had a big effect on total stone fruit production, with export volume down 25%, on average.
- Stone fruit export volumes are primarily driven by plums, and to a certain extent nectarines. By contrast, peach and apricot production are more focused on the domestic markets.
- Plum production has seen some expansion over the last number of years, especially in areas previously considered for other fruit production. Plum trees are slower than peaches and apricots to reach first bearing and then full-bearing age, but also have the potential to have a longer productive lifespan than its stone fruit counterparts.
- The largest export markets for nectarines is the UK at 57% and the EU at 23%. Nectarine production area is holding steady.
- South Africa is the largest exporter of apricots from the Southern Hemisphere by some margin, but is still only 24th in the world. The area under apricots is on a slow decline, from 3 230 hectares in 2012 to 2 700 hectares in 2018, with the expectation that this trend will continue.
- Peaches have seen a decline in the number of hectares over the last 5 years. Producers are looking for alternative markets and preparing orchards differently, in accordance with market needs. Despite the drought and the consequent impact on quality, peach exports have grown by 57% in five years’ time, albeit from a small base.
Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2019-2028
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 the past three annual BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlooks
- For information and statistics please visit the HORTGRO website at www.hortgro.co.za.
- The BFAP Baseline looks at the performance of apples, pears, peaches and nectarines, plums, and apricots. Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.
- Various deciduous fruits and their value chains are covered comprehensively in the Market Value Chain Profiles on the Marketing Directorates web pages of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) at www.dalrrd.gov.za (take the “Branches” option).
- The DALRRD-NAMC TradeProbe 74 (August 2018) includes a look at stone fruit export prospects in Africa, and gives a trade profile of peaches including nectarines. Find the document at www.namc.co.za.
National strategy and government contact
- Nectarines, plums, prunes, table grapes, raisins, apples and pears are all important crops for the country, having high-growth-potential while also being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018).
- The National Development Plan singled out the fruit sector as one of the labour-intensive industries with huge expansion and labour creation potential. The BFAP Baseline 2019 noted that apples and table grapes were among those industries that have already expanded beyond the targets of the NDP (BFAP, 2019).
- The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 – 2020/21 featured fruit export development in the Key Action Programmes. The intention was to accelerate export growth and develop value-added/processed products in both new and existing markets. Find the document at www.thedti.gov.za.
- The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has the Alternative Crops Fund (ACF) – R3 million per annum – to boost exports and bolster land reform. Alternative, smaller crops like cherries, berries and pomegranates have high market value and are export-orientated. They are also mostly water smart and would therefore be preferred crops. Promoting alternative crops is also one of the proposed actions of the SmartAgri plan.
- Fruitlook is an open access online platform to monitor vineyards and orchards. It is funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Fruitlook enables farmers to cut water use by up to 30%. Visit www.fruitlook.co.za.
Associations and industry bodies
- Deciduous Fruit Plant Improvement Association Tel: 021 872 1831 www.plantsa.co.za
- HORTGRO Tel: 021 870 2900 www.hortgro.co.za HORTGRO is the mouthpiece of the deciduous fruit Industry, communicating with government authorities and other interest groups on behalf of several groupings in protecting producers’ interests. Deciduous fruit role players in HORTGRO are: (i) Hortgro Pome [formerly SA Apple & Pear Producers’ Association (SAAPPA)] (ii) Hortgro Stone [formerly SA Stone Fruit Producers’ Association (SASPA)] (iii) Dried Fruit Technical Services (DFTS).
Training and research
- Short course training is one of the offerings at Agricultural Colleges. Pruning and manipulation of deciduous fruit, parts and functioning of the deciduous fruit tree etc are covered at Elsenburg, for example. Find details of the colleges on the “Agricultural education & training” page.
- Learnerships and apprenticeships are a combination of on-the-job learning along with some theoretical training. The major part of the training can be offered on the farm. Find information on learnerships on the “Agricultural education & training” page, or at the AgriSETA website, www.agriseta.co.za (under “Skills delivery” option).
- Find the many training movies for deciduous fruit farmers and farm workers at www.saorchard.co.za.
- ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100 www.arc.agric.za Training courses the following cover: (i) Selection of cultivars and site selection, (ii) Soil preparation and establishment of trees, (iii) Irrigation principles and practices, (iv) Fertilisation principles and practices, (v) Weed control (vi) Pruning of fruit trees and fruit thinning practices, (vii) Identification and control of pests and diseases, (viii) Post-harvest handling of fruit (ix) Processing of fruit (for example, canning, drying, jam making) (x) Solutions to non-bearing fruit trees
- Hortgro Science Tel: 021 882 8470 www.hortgro-science.co.za
- Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum Tel: 023 317 0983 www.kbos.co.za
- Praktika Piketberg Tel: 022 913 2933 www.praktika.co.za
- SA Agri Academy Tel: 021 880 1277 www.agriacademy.co.za
- South African Plant Improvement Organisation Trust (SAPO Trust) Tel: 021 887 6823 www.saplant.co.za
- Stellenbosch University Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology Tel: 021 808 3728
- Stellenbosch University Department of Horticultural Science Tel: 021 808 4900 www.sun.ac.za/horticulture
Find the details for training providers on the “Agricultural education and training” page.
Companies: growers and exporters
- Banhoek Marketing 021 885 2635 www.banhoekfruit.co.za
- Bet-El Fruits 021 863 3146 www.betelfruits.co.za
- Betko Varsprodukte Tel: 028 840 8100
- Bonfrut 076 610 2823 www.bonfrut.co.za
- Brooke House 010 500 8233 www.brookehouse.net
- Cape Five Export 021 850 4640 www.capefive.com
- Capespan 021 917 2600 www.capespan.co.za
- Corefruit 021 863 6300
- De Keur Marketing Tel: 023 315 5605 www.dekeur.co.za
- Delecta Fruit 021 860 3999 www.delecta.co.za
- DKI Fruit Marketing 021 855 1621 http://dkifruit.co.za
- Dole SA 021 983 3600 http://dolesa.co.za
- Dutoit Group 023 312 1071 www.dutoit.com
- ELE Trading 021 557 8467 http://eletrading.co.za
- Emex International 021 554 0522 www.emexintl.com
- EPIC Fruit Exporters Tel: 023 626 4330 www.epicfruit.co.za
- EXSA 021 914 8280 www.exsa.com
- Favourite Fresh Export 021 880 6626 www.ffesa.co.za
- Franschhoek Marketing 021 876 3141 www.freshnessfirst.co.za
- Freshgold SA Exports 021 555 1966 www.freshgoldsa.co.za
- Freshworld 021 808 7100 www.freshworld.co.za
- Fruits Unlimited 021 860 1800 www.fruits.co.za
- FruitOne Tel: 021 883 3447 www.fruitone.com
- Fruitways Marketing 021 851 9744 / 2 www.fruitways.com
- Fruitworks 021 872 8327 www.fruitworks.co.za
- FVC International 021 505 5960 www.fvci.co.za
- GF Marketing 021 944 9700 www.gfmarketing.co.za
- Global Pacific Produce SA 021 202 8085
- Goede Hoop Vrugte 023 315 5293 www.ghfruit.co.za
- Goldee Trading 2 011 848 9950
- Green Marketing 021 874 1055 www.gmint.co.za
- Idea Fruit 021 851 0126 www.ideafruit.co.za
- Impala Citrus www.impalacitrus.co.za
- In Season Marketing 021 943 5960 www.inseason.co.za
- Joe-Rie Products 042 293 0452
- Karpus Exports 011 483 3360 www.karpussa.com
- Kromco 021 850 6700 www.kromco.co.za
- Le Roux Group 021 864 1967 www.lerouxgroup.co.za
- Niche Fruit 021 945 1390 www.suiderlandplase.co.za
- Pomona Fruit 023 626 1890
- Pure Legacy 076 906 8197 www.purelegacy.co.za
- RSA Group 021 532 1300 www.rsa.co.za
- SAFE Farm Ventures 021 657 4000 www.safe.co.za
- SAFPRO 041 581 0886 www.safpro.net
- Samapro 044 533 0201 www.samapro.co.za
- SAPEX Exports 021 883 8280 www.sapex.co.za
- Seven Seas 021 851 2098 www.sevenseasfruit.com
- Southern Fruit Growers 021 852 4012 www.southernfruit.co.za
- Stargrow Fruit Marketing 021 880 1882 www.stargrow.co.za
- Stems Fruit 021 860 3400 www.stemsfruit.co.za
- Swellenfruit Packing 028 512 3440 www.swellenfruit.com
- T&G http://tandg.global
- The Fruit Farm Group 021 880 1707 www.thefruitfarmgroup.com
- Tru-Cape Fruit 021 850 1800/8 www.tru-cape.co.za
- Uitvlugt Farming Trust 021 847 2200
- Unichoice Produce Direct 021 914 5838 www.unichoice.co.za
- Unifrutti 021 852 8494 www.unifrutti.co.za
- Unipack Fruit 023 615 1290
- United Exports 021 851 1618 www.united-exports.com
- Van Doorn Citrus 021 914 8618 www.vandoornsa.co.za
- Vanguard International 083 680 5156 www.vanguardteam.com
- Vintage Group 028 841 4313
- Wolseley Fruit Packers 023 231 1066 www.wolfpackpears.co.za
- WP Fresh Distributors 021 851 3788 www.wpfresh.co.za
- Zest Fruit 021 888 9100 www.zestfruit.co.za
Companies: inputs and services
Websites and publications
Refer to the websites and documents mentioned earlier on this page.
- A number of grower publications can be found on the DALRRD website. Find the brochures and production guidelines under the “Resource Centre” and “Publications” options. These include (i) Brochure apricots (ii) Brochure Plums (iii) Nectarine production guidelines (iv) Persimmon and (v) Plums production guidelines. Also available is the Info Pak Step-by-step Export manual for the South African fruit industry.
- Available from the ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) is the publication “Agro-processing of Deciduous fruit (Apples, apricots, grapes, pears, plums, peaches, figs)”. Call 012 852 4017 or visit www.arc.agric.za.
- CD Roms from the ARC-Plant Protection Research (PPR) include: Crop Pests, vol. 1: Deciduous Fruit, Grapes and Berries. Write to booksales [at] arc.agric.za or infopri [at] arc.agric.za.
- The AgriSETA Assessment Guide Primary Agriculture “Monitor the establishment of a crop” includes orchard trees. Another relevant learner guides include “Harvesting agricultural crops”.
- Several deciduous fruits are dealt with in the publication “Fruit and nut production in KZN”, which can be downloaded at www.kzndard.gov.za/resource-centre
- The SA Fruit Journal looks at research, news on technical matters, exports. Visit www.safj.co.za.
- Fruitlook is an open access online platform to monitor vineyards and orchards. It is funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Visit www.fruitlook.co.za.
- Find the pages on growing apples and pears on https://wikifarmer.com.
- Staff Reporter. 2020, July 26. “Plum production: an overview”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-crop/plum-production-an-overview/
- Hortgro. 2020, April 22. “South Africa in uncharted waters due to Coronavirus outbreak”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9210590/south-africa-in-uncharted-waters-due-to-coronavirus-outbreak/
- Moore P. 2020, April 16. “South African top fruit industry is open for business”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9208965/south-african-top-fruit-industry-is-open-for-business/
- McGregor N. 2019, December 11. “South African stone fruit volumes back to normal, apricots still suffering from drought”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9171923/south-african-stone-fruit-volumes-back-to-normal-apricots-still-suffering-from-drought/
- Jansen, C. 2018, October 31. “80% water restriction, despite full farm dams, of grave concern to Langkloof topfruit farmers”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9037990/water-restriction-despite-full-farm-dams-of-grave-concern-to-langkloof-topfruit-farmers
- Reporter. 2018, February 14. “Cherries show export potential for the Western Cape”. BizCommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/358/173583.html
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