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 article), quinces, cherries, Persimmons, pomegranates (see the “Berries and exotic fruit” page) 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:

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

  • The South African pome fruit industry supplied approximately 16.9% of total Southern Hemisphere apple production and 33.3% of total Southern Hemisphere pear production in 2017.
  • Exports currently constitute 44% of domestic apple production, with domestic fresh and processing accounting for 23% and 33% respectively. Pear production is even more export orientated, with exports accounting for 49% of production, whilst the domestic fresh market and processing components constitute 11% and 40% respectively. The domestic fresh and processing market segments are vital in accommodating volumes of suboptimal quality fruit following adverse weather conditions.
Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2018-2027


Stone fruit

  • Within the global stone fruit market, South Africa provides roughly 9.37% of total plum exports, 0.77% of peaches and nectarine exports, and 1.24% of apricot volumes traded internationally (ITC, 2018).
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa is responsible for exporting 36.87% (66 765 tonnes) of plums, 14.17% (17 105 tonnes) of peaches and nectarines, and 62.38% (4 126 tonnes) of apricots.
  • Regarding export, South Africa trails behind Chile, the most prominent competitor of the South African stone fruit industry.
  • Contrary to peaches, nectarines and apricots, significant investment occurred in plum production, with the area expanding by 31% over the past 10 years.
  • The lion’s share of stone fruit export volumes will continue to be attributed to the plum industry, which is projected to reach a level of almost 62 thousand tonnes by 2027.
Source: Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Baseline 2018-2027

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 2018-2027 and 2017-2026 Baselines 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, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) 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


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 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
  • 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


Government contacts

  • 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
  • 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) 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, (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 on the “Agricultural education and training” page.


Companies: growers and exporters


Companies: inputs and services

Websites and publications

Refer to the websites and documents mentioned earlier on this page.


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