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 “Table grapes“), quinces, cherries, Persimmons, pomegranates (see the “Berries and exotic fruit” page) and figs.

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).

Further reference:

  • World Apple and Pear 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
  • 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
  • The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service includes deciduous fruit in its circulars. See
  • GOOD FRUIT GROWER – an international fruit magazine. Read about it at


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

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.


Pome fruit

  • 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


Stone fruit

  • 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
  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. 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 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


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
  • 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
  • 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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