Deciduous fruit is comprised of pome fruit and stone fruit.

  • Pome fruit: apples, pears
  • Stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots

Also included in the deciduous fruit category are grapes (see separate chapter), quinces, cherries, Persimmons, pomegranates (see the “Berries and exotic fruit” chapter) and figs.

International business environment

Top apple exporting countries: China (15%), Italy 12%, Poland 11%, USA 10%, Chile 8%, SA and France 6%. World’s total fresh apples exports amounts to 8.8 million tonnes (ITC, 2018).
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

See also:

  • World Apple and Pear Find the list of members for global contacts in deciduous fruit.
  • GOOD FRUIT GROWER – an international fruit magazine. Read about it at 

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 but mainly along the Orange River and in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Pome fruit

More returns are generated through exports and South Africa sells almost half of its pome fruit on the international market.

  • Apples Exports go to the Africa, the Far East and Asia and the UK.
  • Pears Europe and Russia are the major markets for green pears. The Far East and Asia and the Middle East are the next largest markets.

Stone fruit

  • Peaches and Nectarines South Africa is a relatively small peach grower in global terms. Most of its peaches and nectarines are processed. The Middle East and the UK are the top destinations for exports. The smallest proportion is consumed in the local market as a fresh product. The Klein Karoo area is a leading producer of peaches and nectarines in South Africa followed by the Ceres area.
  • Plums South Africa is the third largest exporter of plums behind Chile and Spain (ITC 2016), its major markets being Europe, Russia and the Middle East. The remainder is consumed as fresh produce locally and a smaller percentage processed.
  • Apricots The primary markets for produced apricots are processing and drying. Some 8% are exported, mostly to Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

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

  1. For information and statistics please visit the HORTGRO website at
  2. The BFAP Baseline looks at the performance of apples, pears, peaches and nectarines, plums, and apricots. The 2017-2026 Baseline included a farming system analysis using the financial simulation (FinSim) farm level model. Find the document at
  3. 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, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) at (take the “Branches” option).
  4. The DAFF-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


Find the “Transformation” option at

National strategy and government contact

  • The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 – 2020/21 features fruit export development in the Key Action Programmes. The intention is to accelerate export growth and develop value-added/processed products in both new and existing markets. Find the document at
  • 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.

Government contacts

  • Find information and further contact details on the different directorates of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) under the “Branches” menu option at
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115

Role players

Associations and industry bodies

  • Deciduous Fruit Plant Improvement Association Tel: 021 872 1831
  • HORTGRO Tel: 021 870 2900  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) SA Apple & Pear Producers’ Association (SAAPPA) (ii) 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 in the “Agricultural education & training” chapter.
  • 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 in the “Agricultural education & training” chapter, or at the AgriSETA website, (under “Skills delivery” option).
  • Find the many training movies for deciduous fruit farmers and farm workers at
  • ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100 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
  • Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum Tel: 023 317 0983
  • NOSA Agricultural Services Tel: 087 286 9298
  • Praktika Piketberg Tel: 022 913 2933
  • SA Agri Academy Tel: 021 880 1277
  • South African Plant Improvement Organisation Trust (SAPO Trust) Tel: 021 887 6823
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology Tel: 021 808 3728
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Horticultural Science Tel: 021 808 4900

Find the details for training providers in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter.

Companies: growers and exporters

Companies: inputs and services

Websites and publications

Refer to the websites and documents mentioned earlier in this chapter.

Sources for this chapter: Fresh Fruit Export Directory 2016; BFAP Baselines 2017-2026, 2016-2025, 2015-2024; HORTGRO SERVICES and its website, Previous copies of SA Fruit trade Flow were also consulted.

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