SAFE has enjoyed a bumper 2018 season producing a record of just over 1.5 million cartons.
Close to 400,000 cartons were exported to the Middle East, 500 000 to the Far East and the balance exported to the USA, Russia and Canada and Europe.
This rate of production is an increase on previous years, in keeping with the trend for citrus production in South Africa.
According to Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA), Southern African citrus reached a record volume of product packed for export in 2018.
“The current South African export exceeds 1.9 million tons (128 million cartons). With just five million cartons still to be packed – mostly oranges – the season will end up just shy of two million tons, which is another milestone,” said Chadwick.
Wibo van den Ende, SAFE’s Marketing and Sales Director – Export, says that SAFE’s exports increased by about 10% from the previous year.
“Prices for lemons and mandarins were very good this year while Valencia and navel prices were average but stable.
“Soft citrus is increasingly attractive and the popularity of navel oranges is declining somewhat. The younger generation wants fruit that is a bit easier to handle. A number of new soft citrus varieties have come on the market such as Nadarcot, Murcot and Clemengolds. These varieties are making inroads into the former navel orange market,” says Wibo.
Another trend is Valencias’ growth in popularity due to the growing global juicing consumption in supermarkets, catering and restaurants, bulk orange juice for smoothies and other contemporary foods.
A third trend is that South African lemons are still gaining in popularity. South Africa is producing high-quality lemons for markets in Europe, Middle East and Asia.
According to Wibo, SAFE’s strategy of packaging citrus according to clients’ specific requirements has paid off. Mandarins, for example, are distributed in client-branded 500g, 1 kg, 1,5 kg and 2 kg packs.
“The plan is to export more mandarins in the future, and we believe the outlook for Valencias and lemons is also positive.
“Normal’ navels do require a bit more marketing and sales efforts. We do believe, however, demand is still strengthening worldwide for varieties such as Witkrans and Cambria.”
According to Wibo, buyers are very happy with the quality of the fruit they receive from SAFE. They are also satisfied with the MRLs (maximum residue levels), SAFE global certifications and SAFE’s methods of growing the fruit.