Fruits are edible products of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food. They are also known as an important source of vitamins and carbohydrates. The cultivation of fruits differs considerably in different places owing to physical properties of land, climate, rainfall, temperature, sunlight, cultural practices of the inhabitants, etc.

South Africa is a wealthy and diverse country consisting of different climatic conditions across the country. The different climatic conditions allow production of various fruits which include citrus, deciduous and subtropical fruit.

  • Citrus is mainly produced in the irrigation areas of the Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape. (Find updates and news at www.cga.co.za).
  • Deciduous fruit is grown mainly in the Western Cape, as well as in the Langkloof Valley in the Eastern Cape. Significant table and dried grapes production areas are also along the Orange River and in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. (Find the fruit regions map and information at www.hortgro.co.za).
  • Subtropical crops such as avocados, mangoes, bananas, litchis, guavas, pawpaws, and granadillas are produced mainly in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, as well as in the subtropical coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Pineapples are grown in the Eastern Cape and northern KwaZulu-Natal. (Find statistics at www.subtrop.co.za).
CitrusDeciduousSubtropicalExotic/Other
Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, easy peelers and limesApples, apricots, pears, grapes (fresh and dried), plums, nectarines, peaches, quinces, cherries and figsAvocados, bananas, mangoes, litchis, papayas, papinos, granadillas, pineapples, guavas, loquats, melons and kiwi fruitThe different berries, sweet and water melons, persimmons, pomegranates, sour figs, prickly pears, custard apples, jack fruit and medlars

Note: Opinion is not unanimous regarding the category is which certain fruits like pomegranates are placed.

International business environment

The following references are useful for global information:

 

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.

 

  • South African exports of citrus, grapes and pome fruit have been increasing their share of global trade over the past decade, with citrus leading the way, growing its share from around 4% in 2001 to more than 10% in 2018, followed by table grapes (5% to 7%) and pome fruits (3% to 6%) (BFAP, 2019).
  • South African fruit exports depend on the UK and EU as markets. The 2019 BFAP Baseline exhorts the sector to expand to new markets and markets with potential. This is particularly true where there has been exponential growth – as with lemons, limes and soft citrus. Oversupply “in a crowded market can be harmful to the price of quality produce in the long run” (BFAP, 2019).
  • The exporting of fruit is subject to compliance with certain quality requirements and obtaining a Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) export certificate. The PPECB is the official certification agency that ensures quality in the supply chain. It offers inspection services, logistical services, food safety auditing and certification services. Visit www.ppecb.com.

Local business environment

South Africa is globally known for being a net exporter of citrus, deciduous and subtropical fruits. Around 2,7 million tons, worth R26 billion ($2,4 billion), are exported to more than 90 countries (FPEF, 2019).

Fresh fruit makes up about 35% of agricultural exports (FPEF, 2019). Other fruit is (i) supplied to the local market, traded at wholesalers, formal municipal and metropolitan markets; (ii) supplied to processing plants for production of fruit concentrate, fruit juices and canned fruit; (iii) processed into dried fruits for both local and export markets.

Although there are some good news stories (see next heading), integrating smallholder farmers who can benefit from export opportunities remains a challenge.

Some 50% of South Africa’s fruit is grown in the Western Cape. Find the charts on www.fpef.co.za which indicate where fruit is grown and when it is harvested.

The fruit industry is a vital earner of foreign exchange and creator of employment for South Africa (see “National strategy and government contact” heading).

 

Further reference:

  • The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands study on the current state of fruit and vegetable agro-processing in South Africa can be found at https://agbiz.co.za/uploads/AgbizNews19/190215_Current-state-of-agro-processing-in%20SA.pdf
  • Technical information and overviews are available on role player websites listed in this chapter.
  • The reader should also refer to the “Economic analyses” and “Statistical information” publications under “Branches” and “Administration” at www.daff.gov.za.
  • See also the annual BFAP Baseline which evaluates the performance of different South African fruit at www.bfap.co.za.

Emerging farmer news

Refer to this heading in the other fruit articles.

Find out about the following programmes from the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) or see https://fpef.co.za:

  • The Top of the Class (TOC) programme is a SETA-accredited opportunity for previously disadvantaged students to be exposed to the entire fresh fruit value chain.
  • The Leadership & Mentoring (L&M) programme pairs employees with leadership potential with the person to whom they report in the workplace. Amongst the objectives of L&M is the transformation of the leadership profile in the business.

An interesting example of entrepreneurship on a fruit farm can be found at http://fruitlips.co.za. FruitLips processes fruit not exported, manufacturing jams, marmalades, chutneys etc. This offers jobs to “more than fifteen families”.

The Post-Harvest Innovation Programme is a project to create more success stories of smallholder farmers exporting. It is a public-private partnership between the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF), with the FPEF as the implementing agent. Read more at www.postharvestinnovation.org.za.

Skills For Africa is a focused skills training company dedicated to the upliftment of previously disadvantaged rural communities and the improvement of task level productivity in chosen industries. Find their details – as well as those of other providers – under the “Training and research” heading.

The goal of the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA) programme is to continually improve labour conditions on all farms in a practical and comprehensive manner, which has the potential to benefit businesses and impact positively on hundreds of thousands of employees. Read more at www.siza.co.za.

Witzenburg PALS initiative http://bit.ly/2bF4l97

Exporting fruit from the Western Cape Province of South Africa to markets in Europe, North America and Asia contributes significantly to the province’s Gross Domestic Product. The main export producers are large-scale farmers. Even with the change in discriminatory legislation and practices in South Africa after 1994, few emerging farmers have entered this market. This is due to:

 

  • The historical political inequalities faced by the predominantly coloured and black emerging farmers, in particular the lack of access to agricultural resources and inputs, because legislation used to exclude them from mainstream commercial farming;
  • The subsequent inability of emerging farmers to produce the volumes and, at times, the quality required for export;
  • The significant influence of economies of scale, making it almost impossible for emerging farmers to achieve a significant profit. Input pricing and transport cost eventually impact on the final price of the products grown.
  • Commercial farming is a highly technical operation, and but it in fact also a financial and managerial exercise. Most emerging farmers need to be brought up to speed on all three these skills.

The few smallholders who manage to export their fruit do so through collective or individual arrangements with large-scale commercial operations. Effective agricultural extension and research requires officials and agents to not only work with farmers but to go beyond individuals and village groupings to look at the significance of broader linkages and the role these play in agricultural production and development. Where appropriate they should seriously consider strengthening farmers’ networks and innovations, rather than ignoring or replacing these.

 

Contact Tim Hart at thart [at] hsrc.ac.za.

National strategy and government contact

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)

  • Find information and further contact details on the different directorates under the “Branches” menu option at www.daff.gov.za.
  • Successful fruit exports depend on compliance with the requirements of target markets, and compliance begins in the orchard. Find the relevant export protocols on the Directorate Plant Health pages. The contact number for the Directorate: Food Import and Export Standards is 012 319 6118.
  • Olives, macadamias, pecan nuts, avocados, citrus, nectarines, plums, prunes, mangoes, table grapes, raisins, vegetables, bananas, litchis, apples and pears are important crops for the country. They have high-growth-potential while also being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018).
  • The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)‘s 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 Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) was based on the model of the Industrial Policy Action Plans (IPAPs). It also defined itself in relation to both the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth Path (NGP). Two national outcomes that it sought to strengthen were: (i) Decent Employment through Inclusive Growth (ii) Comprehensive Rural Development and Food Security. The section on fruit set out the constraints of this sector as well as a strategy for its growth.

Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) www.apacweb.org.za APAC regulates the occupation of fresh produce agents.

Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) www.ppecb.com Contact details for the PPECB regional offices can be found on the website.

National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) www.namc.co.za The statutory levies for producers are implemented through the NAMC.

Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology  www.dst.gov.za This department has been involved in the Post-Harvest Innovation Programme, addressing technology gaps across the chain – from harvest to home. Visit www.postharvestinnovation.org.za.

Associations involved

Fruit South Africa (FSA) is a non-profit organisation formed to address common issues affecting member organisations in the South African fruit industry. See www.fruitsa.co.za. The members of FSA are:

HORTGRO represents industry bodies like Hortgro Pome [formerly SA Apple & Pear Producers’ Association (SAAPPA)], Hortgro Stone [formerly SA Stone Fruit Producers’ Association (SASPA)] and the Dried Fruit Technical Services (DFTS). Subtrop represents the SA Avocado Growers’ Association (www.avocado.co.za), the SA Mango Grower’s Association (www.mango.co.za), the SA Macadamia Growers’ Association (www.samac.org.za) and the SA Litchi Growers’ Association (www.litchisa.co.za).

 

Others

  • Fresh Produce Importers Association Tel: 012 331 5341 www.fpia.co.za
  • Pomegranate Association of South Africa (POMASA) Tel: 021 870 2900 www.sapomegranate.co.za
  • Produce Marketing Association Tel: 079 497 1594 LStroebel [at] pma.com
  • South African Berry Producers Association Tel: 021 870 2900
  • Tomato Producer’s Organisation (TPO) – refer to the “Vegetables” page (with apologies to some for the category decision!)

Find details of other associations in the “Citrus”, “Deciduous”, “Subtropical fruit”, “Dried fruit” and “Fruit juice” articles.

Training and research

Refer to the “Citrus”, “Deciduous” and “Subtropical fruit” fruit pages for details of role players not listed here.

The Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) identified technologies as a vital element in growing the whole horticultural sector. The development of new technologies “requires a well-functioning research system.” New technologies included the breeding of new varieties/cultivars, control of pests and diseases and water conservation technologies, amongst others.

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” page, or at www.agriseta.co.za (under “Skills delivery” option).

  • The ARC’s Horticultural Business Division consists of the following: (i) ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops Tel: 013 753 7000 (ii) ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100. The ARC campuses conduct research and training. Visit www.arc.agric.za for more information.
  • Cape Women’s Forum – see Philani Training and Development Solutions
  • Citrus Academy Tel: 031 765 3410 / 2 www.citrusacademy.co.za
  • Elgin Learning Foundation Tel: 021 848 9413
  • Hoedspruit Hub Agricultural Training Centre Tel: 072 055 9382 www.hoedspruithub.com
  • Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum Tel: 023 317 0983 / 0588 www.kbos.co.za
  • Philani Training and Development Solutions Tel: 021 883 2490 www.philani.co.za
  • Praktika Tel: 022 913 2933 www.praktika.co.za
  • SA AgriAcademy Tel: 021 880 1277 www.agriacademy.co.za
  • SAPO Trust Tel: 021 887 6823 www.saplant.co.za
  • Skills for Africa Tel: 012 379 4920 www.skillsafrica.co.za Contacts in all provinces can be found on the website.
  • Other AgriSETA accredited groups also do training in fruit e.g. Skills for All include bananas, citrus, vines and more in their training programme. Fruit production is involved in the diplomas training at the Agricultural Colleges. Various short courses are also offered e.g. Cedara runs peach processing, vegetable and fruit drying, and jam manufacturing short courses, whilst Elsenburg conducts management and horticultural diploma courses over a 2-3 year period.

Find details of AgriSETA-accredited companies, agricultural colleges, universities and other training providers in the “Agricultural education and training” article.

Companies involved

 

Companies: growers and exporters

Find the latest updated exporters directory at https://fpef.co.za.

 

Other role players

  • ABSI – Agribusiness Systems International www.absi.co.za
  • Agrihub www.agrihub.co.za Agri-Hub supplies non-competitive information to the fruit industry.
  • Agrisort Products Tel: 021 981 7062 http://agrisort.com Fruit sorting technologies
  • Citricom IP Tel: 021 887 2909 www.citricom.co.za Intellectual property services
  • CitroGold www.citrogold.co.za A platform for plant breeders to commercialise new varieties
  • Culdevco www.culdevco.co.za A joint venture between the ARC and the deciduous fruit industry
  • DFM Technologies https://dfmtechnologies.co.za Recent years have seen the agricultural market change drastically. From water acts, labour relations to getting your produce accepted overseas, file upon file of information needs to be kept and hours spent in keeping it up to date. For many it has become a full time occupation. Software exists to make this task easier and less time consuming.
  • Dryers for Africa www.dryersforafrica.co.za Equipment for the drying and processing of fruit
  • GPB Consulting www.consultgpb.co.za
  • Goldpack (Pty) Ltd www.goldpack.co.za Packhouse systems
  • Hortec www.hortec.co.za Fruit Quality testing laboratory.
  • Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Food, Beverage and Agro-Industries SBU Tel: 011 269 3000 www.idc.co.za As a business unit their role is to focus on investments biased towards job creation, SME development, export generation and regional development. The largest portion of their investment portfolio has been in fruit and nuts industries.
  • Kruger Swart & Associates Tel: 021 885 2347 www.skaa.co.za Market analysis and access, capacity building and other work has been done for various agricultural sectors including fruit.
  • MED Automation & Greefa Tel: 021 868 1652 www.med-automation.co.za Fruit quality sorting and handling

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.

The Export Directory is a guide to South African fruit exporters and export service providers. It is issued by the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF). Read it at https://fpef.co.za.

A number of publications put out by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), to be found at www.daff.gov.za, have relevance to this article. These include:

  • Several market chain profiles include ones for apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, citrus, litchis, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums and table grapes. Find the profiles under “Annual publications” on the Directorate Marketing’s pages.
  • Find the Export Manual SA Fruit document under “Resource Centre”.
  • If there is a fruit grown in this country, you will find grower notes under the “InfoPak” and “Brochure” options (also under “Resource Centre”) !
  • Statistics on fresh produce markets. Annually this gives an exposition of the mass, value and unit value of the sales of fruit at each of the national fresh produce markets, month by month. Each product is dealt with separately.
  • Also find the Trends, Economic Analysis and Statistical Information reports. The latter gives detailed statistics on production, sales on markets, exports and purchases for processing.

Find the latest SA Fruit Trade Flow on www.namc.co.za, website of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC). The DAFF-NAMC Trade Probes frequently cover aspects of South Africa’s fruit industry. Find the documents at www.namc.co.za.

SA Fruit Journal The magazine consists of dedicated sections for the three fruit sectors – citrus, deciduous and subtropical – as well as market, industry and research news. Visit www.safj.co.za for more information.

Find the Nation in Conversation overview of the fruit industry (Jan 2017) on YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqBexzwbJVY

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/guideline-documents

Call 012 842 4000 or email iaeinfo [at] arc.agric.za for the following leaflets, available from the ARC in Silverton:

  • Agro-processing of Citrus Fruit (Grapefruit, lemons, oranges)
  • Agro-processing of Deciduous fruit (Apples, apricots, grapes, pears, plums, peaches)
  • Agro-processing of Olives and Legumes (green peas)
  • Agro-processing of Field crops (Chilli, bell peppers, tomatoes)
  • Agro-processing of Subtropical Fruit (Avocado, bananas, figs, guava, kiwifruit, litchi, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple).

SA Groente en Vrugte. A magazine, 6 issues a year. Contact 018 293 0622 for more information.

Find the many grower guides at www.growveg.co.za.

Find global news at www.freshplaza.com, https://fruitworldmedia.com and https://theclippermag.com.

 

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