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.
|Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, easy peelers and limes||Apples, apricots, pears, grapes (fresh and dried), plums, nectarines, peaches, quinces, cherries and figs||Avocados, bananas, mangoes, litchis, papayas, papinos, granadillas, pineapples, guavas, loquats, melons and kiwi fruit||The 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:
- The Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) represents, as the name suggests, several southern hemisphere fresh fruit exporters: Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and Uruguay. See https://shaffe.net. Anton Kruger from South Africa is its 2020 president.
- Fresh Plaza www.freshplaza.com
- The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service includes fruit in its circulars. See https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/fruit.pdf.
- The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP)’s annual Baseline, which evaluates the performance of different South African fruit on the global market, gives a good impression of global conditions as pertains to the fruit industry. Find it at www.bfap.co.za.
- GOOD FRUIT GROWER – an international fruit magazine. Read about it at www.goodfruit.com.
South Africa: imports and exports
- South Africa’s exports of fruit is made up of the following: citrus fruit (62%), pome fruit (20%), table grapes (13%), stone fruit (2%), subtropical fruit (2%) and exotics (1%) (FPEF, 2021).
- A breakdown of country destinations for the various fruit exports is given on the different fruit pages. See “Citrus fruit”, “Deciduous fruit” etc.
- 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.
- The annual Food Trade SA publication from Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) is a good source of export statistics for fresh produce. Find it at https://ppecb.com/documents.
Local business environment
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).
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 country is globally known for being a net exporter of citrus, deciduous and subtropical fruit. Fruit worth over $3.3 billion are exported to more than 100 countries (FPEF, 2021). In addition, R1,95 billion is paid to the transport industry, and R3.1 billion to service providers at South African ports (FPEF, 2020).
Fresh fruit makes up about 35% of agricultural exports (FPEF, 2020). 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.
The fruit industry is a vital earner of foreign exchange and creator of employment for South Africa (see “National strategy and government contact” heading).
- Technical information and overviews are available on role player websites listed on this page.
- The reader should also refer to the “Economic analyses” and “Statistical information” publications under “Branches” and “Administration” at www.dalrrd.gov.za.
- See also the annual BFAP Baseline which evaluates the performance of different South African fruit at www.bfap.co.za.
- The BFAP Baseline 2021-2030 included a mini-study, “Exploring the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on fruit consumption” (see Box 8). Find the document at www.bfap.co.za.
- 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
Emerging farmer information
Refer to this heading on the other fruit pages.
- The Emerging Exporter Support Programme (launched in 2021). Candidates receive a combination of mentorship, coaching, practical support (access to fruit, markets, post-harvest technical guidance, logistics guidance, risk management etc.) and where relevant, opportunities to gain practical exposure and experience in the form of short-term placements and/or job shadowing. Contact Johannes Brand, johannes [at] @fpef.co.za for more information
- 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.
The Fruit Industry Value Chain Round Table (FIVCRT) was established in 2014, as a platform where the government, labour and industry leaders from different nodes in the value chain, meet to coordinate processes aimed at enhancing the value chain outcomes and securing an enduring global advantage for South Africa. Download the FIVCRT Transformation Working Group (TWG) 2020 report here.
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 Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF), with the FPEF as the implementing agent. Read more at www.postharvestinnovation.org.za.
Details of training providers can be found 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
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.dalrrd.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 Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP), based on the model of the Industrial Policy Action Plans (IPAPs), 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.
- 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).
Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) www.apacweb.org.za APAC regulates the occupation of fresh produce agents.
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. Contact details for the PPECB regional offices can be found on the website. Visit www.ppecb.com.
National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) www.namc.co.za The statutory levies for producers are implemented through the NAMC.
Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) 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.
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:
- Citrus Growers Association (CGA) www.cga.co.za
- Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) https://fpef.co.za
- HORTGRO www.hortgro.co.za
- SA Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop) www.subtrop.co.za
- SA Table Grapes (SATI) www.satgi.co.za
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).
- Berries ZA www.berriesza.co.za
- Fresh Produce Importers Association www.fpia.co.za
- International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) Southern Africa www.freshproduce.com
- Pomegranate Association of South Africa (POMASA) www.sapomegranate.co.za
- South African Kiwi Growers’ Association www.sakiwi.co.za
- Tomato Producer’s Organisation (TPO) – refer to the “Vegetables” page (with apologies to some for the category decision!)
Training and research
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 (ii) ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij 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 www.citrusacademy.co.za
- Elgin Learning Foundation Tel: 021 848 9413
- Hoedspruit Hub Agricultural Training Centre www.hoedspruithub.com
- Koue Bokkeveld Opleidingsentrum www.kbos.co.za
- Philani Training and Development Solutions Tel: 021 883 2490
- Praktika www.praktika.co.za
- SA AgriAcademy www.agriacademy.co.za
- SAPO Trust www.saplant.co.za
- Skills for Africa 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 on the “Agricultural education and training” page.
Companies: growers and exporters
Other role players
- Agrihub www.agrihub.co.za Agri-Hub supplies non-competitive information to the fruit industry.
- Agrisort Products http://agrisort.com Fruit sorting technologies
- Biozone https://biozone.co.za Prolong the lifespan of products in storage and in transit
- Citricom IP 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 https://goldpack.co.za Packhouse systems
- Hortec www.hortec.co.za Fruit Quality testing laboratory.
- Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Food, Beverage and Agro-Industries SBU 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.
- MED Automation & Greefa 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.dalrrd.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 DALRRD-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
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 the notes on farming with dates at http://southafrica.co.za/dates.html.
- Jansen C. 2021, December 15. “Agriculture is a force for good, says new chair of South Africa’s FPEF”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9383272/agriculture-is-a-force-for-good-says-new-chair-of-south-africa-s-fpef/
- Jansen C. 2020, January 15. “South African agriculture needs to become expert at international relations”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/9180183/south-african-agriculture-needs-to-become-expert-at-international-relations/
- Chisoro-Dube S. & Mondliwa P. 2019, December 2. “South Africa is missing out on fresh fruit export growth. What it needs to do”. The Conversation. Available at https://theconversation.com/south-africa-is-missing-out-on-fresh-fruit-export-growth-what-it-needs-to-do-124391
- Van der Walt J. 2019, March 22. “Swartland jam factory turns rejected fruit into profit”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/swartland-jam-factory-turns-rejected-fruit-into-profit/
- Liphadzi, K. 2018, November 27. “Market access sustains SA’s fresh fruit industry”. Bizcommunity. Available at www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/741/184774.html
- Cordes, M. 2018, July 10. “Marketing tips: What happens to fruit after the harvest?” African Farming.com. Available at www.africanfarming.com/marketing-tips-happens-fruit-harvest/
- Branson, A. 2017, September 18. “Drought Tolerant Fruit Tree Plants That Can Grow in Dry Climates”. Wilderners. Available at http://wilderners.com/drought-tolerant-fruit-tree/
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