Deciduous fruit is comprised of pome fruit and stone fruit.
- Pome fruit: apples, pears
- Stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries
International business environment
- Top pear producing countries: China, EU, Argentina, US, Turkey and South Africa (USDA, 2021).
- Top pear exporting countries: China, Argentina, EU, South Africa and US (USDA, 2021).
- Top apple producing countries: China, EU, US, Turkey and India (USDA, 2021).
- Top apple exporting countries: China, EU, USA, Chile and South Africa (USDA, 20201).
- China, EU, Turkey and the USA are the largest producers of peaches and nectarines (USDA, 2021).
- Russia imports more peaches and nectarines than any other country, by far (USDA, 2021).
- The EU, Turkey and Chile are the biggest exporters of peaches and nectarines (USDA, 2021)
- The largest producers of cherries are Turkey, EU, China, Chile and the USA (USDA, 2021). China and Russia are the biggest importers, while the top exporters of cherries are Chile, USA and Turkey (USDA, 2021).
- World Apple and Pear Association – www.wapa-association.org. Find the list of members for global contacts in deciduous fruit.
- 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, apricots and cherries 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 and https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/StoneFruit.pdf.
- GOOD FRUIT GROWER – an international fruit magazine. Read about it at www.goodfruit.com.
South Africa: imports and exports
- Apples were exported mostly to the Far East & Asia (28%), Africa (28%) and the UK (18%) (FPEF 2021).
- Pears went mostly to Europe (25%), Russia (21%), Far East & Asia (20%) and the Middle East (20%) (FPEF 2021).
- Peaches were exported mostly to the Middle East (46%) and UK (37%) (FPEF 2021)
- Nectarine exports went mostly to the UK (48%), Europe (31%) and the Middle East (16%) (FPEF 2021)
- Plums were exported to Europe (47%), UK (22%) and the Middle East (19%) (FPEF 2021)
- Apricots were exported to the Middle East (40%), UK (30%) and Europe (27%) (FPEF 2021).
- Cherries went to the UK (73%), the Middle East (8%) and the EU (8%) (BFAP, 2021).
The annual Fresh Fruit Exporter Directory by the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF), and the Food Trade SA publication from Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) give trade statistics for the different fruit sectors. Download these at https://fpef.co.za and https://ppecb.com/documents respectively.
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. Cherries, historically grown in Ficksburg, has gone from a 188 hectare industry to 469 hectares in 2018/19. Half of the industry is now in Ceres (BFAP, 2021).
Deciduous fruit typically constitute 23% of horticulture’s Gross Value of Production (GPV), but its export contribution is larger and the sector is a major employer within agriculture (BFAP, 2021).
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
- The BFAP Baseline looks at the performance of apples, pears, peaches and nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries. Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.
- For information and statistics please visit the HORTGRO website at www.hortgro.co.za.
- The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service report “Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual” (2020, November) provides a very worthwhile introduction to deciduous fruit in South Africa. Find it at https://apps.fas.usda.gov.
- Various deciduous fruits and their value chains have been 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). See if the directorate has resumed these publications.
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).
- Fruit export development has featured in previous government strategies like the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 – 2020/21. The intention was to accelerate export growth and develop value-added/processed products in both new and existing markets.
- 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.
- Find information and further contact details on the different directorates of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) under the “Branches” menu option at www.dalrrd.gov.za.
- National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) www.namc.co.za
Associations and industry bodies
- Deciduous Fruit Plant Improvement Association www.plantsa.co.za
- HORTGRO 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 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 www.hortgro-science.co.za
- Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum www.kbos.co.za
- Praktika Piketberg www.praktika.co.za
- SA Agri Academy www.agriacademy.co.za
- South African Plant Improvement Organisation Trust (SAPO Trust) www.saplant.co.za
- Stellenbosch University Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/agri/departments1/conservation-ecology
- 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
Find the exporter lists on https://fpef.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
- 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.
- Cooper G. 2021, May 20. “South African stone fruit industry reports record volumes this season”. FreshPlaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9323074/south-african-stone-fruit-industry-reports-record-volumes-this-season/
- Fresh Plaza. 2021, April 28. “Robotic harvester plucks an apple every 7 seconds”. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9316228/robotic-harvester-plucks-an-apple-every-7-seconds/
- 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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