While most of the world was clamped in restrictive lockdown, SAFE’s South African fruit farmers were hard at work harvesting citrus to provide international markets with a natural dose of vitamin C, which is widely believed to be valuable in nurturing the body’s immune system.
By the end of June SAFE had packed 815 000 cartons of citrus and shipped 710 000 cartons, 30 percent of which were headed for the Middle East, 27 percent for the Far East and the remaining 43 percent were on the high seas destined for ports in Russia and Europe.
According to Lucius Phaleng, Agricultural Economist in the Trade Research Unit of the Marketing and Economic Research Centre of the National Agricultural Marketing Council, South Africa is listed among the world’s largest producers of fresh fruit, and the South African fruit industry is the largest contributor, in terms of value, to South Africa’s agricultural exports.
He said that about 90 percent of South Africa’s fruit is exported to international markets, with only 10 percent consumed locally.
“Proof of the resilience of the South African industry is that we have been able to consistently provide global markets demanding citrus at this time with the high-quality fruit for which South Africa has a long and hard-won reputation,” he said.
“Our fruit industry has also done extremely well to remain competitive in spite of very real challenges from other countries growing and harvesting citrus.”
Market Resilience: SA farmers have done extremely well says Lucius Phaleng, Agricultural Economist in the Trade Research Unit of the Marketing and Economic Research Centre of the National Agricultural Marketing Council.
Industry sources commented recently that there appears to have been a recent shift from a focus on Russia and the Far East back to Europe where demand is strong – most recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, by harvesting slightly earlier than competitor producers, South African fruit has been able to benefit from a surge in demand.
Earlier this year SAFE Sales and Marketing Manager, Wibo van den Ende, confirmed that an easing of lockdown restrictions in European countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany had resulted in an increase in sales.
He remained concerned that demand from the wholesale and catering business had remained suppressed.
“As far as the impact of this pandemic is concerned, we will just have to keep on our toes and be able to adapt to market conditions as they evolve.”