Introduction

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.

Citrus Deciduous Subtropical Exotic/Other
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.
  • Global Coalition of Fresh Produce (GCFP) https://producecoalition.net
  • 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 (63%), pome fruit (20%), table grapes (12%), stone fruit (2%), subtropical fruit (2%) and exotics (1%) (FPEF, 2022).
  • A breakdown of country destinations for the various fruit exports is given on the different fruit pages. See “Citrus fruit”, “Deciduous fruit” etc.

Further reference:

  • 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. A map of South African fruit and the regions in which they are grown appears in the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) Export Directory. Find it at https://fpef.co.za.

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, 2022). 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, 2022). 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).

 

Further reference:

  • 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  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 2022-2031 included a mini-study, “Fruit Intake in a Constrained Economic Environment” (see Box 6). 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.

Find the transformation options at https://fpef.co.za and at  https://fruitsa.co.za. On the first, read about the following FPEF initiatives:

  1. FPEF Graduate Internship Programme, which has as its goal “to place high-caliber, black, tertiary graduates in junior commercial roles in South African fruit export companies for a one-year internship, with a view to providing long-term career opportunities for successful interns
  2. Training: there are two “well established” training programmes: Top of the Class (TOC) and Leadership and Mentorship (L&M).
  3. FPEF Member Transformation and AgriBEE Support
  4. Dissemination of Exporter Transformation Successes and Status
  5. Emerging Exporter Support

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.

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.

PALS (Partners in Agri Land Solutions) initiative www.sapals.co.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.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.
  • Strategies like the Agriculture and Agro Processing Master Plan (AAMP) and the National Development Plan (NDP), and the previous Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) and Industrial Policy Action Plans (IPAPs) always look for (i) Decent Employment through Inclusive Growth (ii) Comprehensive Rural Development and Food Security.
  • 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.

Role players

Companies

Note: Click to expand the headings below.  To get a free listing on our website like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order here. Disclaimer: The role player listings are not vetted by this website.

Dryers for Africa www.dryersforafrica.co.za Add value to your produce: Fruit, vegetable, nuts and herb drying systems
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Agro-processing and Agriculture Strategic Business Unit (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.
Hortec www.hortec.co.za Weather stations and forecasts and analytical services
MED Automation & Greefa www.med-automation.co.za Fruit quality sorting and handling
Representative Bodies
HORTGRO www.hortgro.co.za 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 (ii) Hortgro Stone (iii) Dried Tree Fruit.
International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) www.freshproduce.com Find contact details for the South African representative on the website.
Community, NGO and NPO Service Providers
Agrihub www.agrihub.co.za "Accurate, complete and timely information is absolutely essential to the fruit industry decisions makers at various levels".

Further reference:

Companies: growers and exporters

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

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

 

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.
  • The Export Manual SA Fruit document
  • If there is a fruit grown in this country, you will find grower notes under the “InfoPak” and “Brochure” options!
  • 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).

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

Find the notes on farming with dates at http://southafrica.co.za/dates.html.

The AgriSETA Assessment Guide Primary Agriculture “Monitor the establishment of a crop” includes orchard trees. Another relevant learner guides include “Harvesting agricultural crops”. Find these at www.agriseta.co.za.

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

 

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