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"Hortgro expects "tough season" in terms of profitability levels"

South Africa releases first top fruit estimate for the season

Hortgro, the South African industry body for the top fruit and stonefruit industry, has just released its first top fruit export estimate for the new season. At this point the forecast stands at an 8% decrease for apples (about 2.6 million 12.5kg equivalent cartons fewer than last year) and a 3% decrease for pears.

“Decreases in major apple varieties are as follows: Golden Delicious (-9%), Royal Gala/Gala (-4%), Granny Smith (-8%) and Topred/Starking (-15%). Despite the growth in pear plantings over the last couple of years, pear volumes are expected to decrease. A decrease in export volumes of Williams Bon Chretien (-7%) is expected due to smaller fruit size. On the contrary, only export volumes of Packham’s Triumph (+1%), are expected to increase compared to the previous season.”

Hortgro points out that the areas of Villiersdorp/Vyeboom, the Koue Bokkeveld and the Klein-Karoo are most affected by the drought, but even within areas there is variability in water access. The Langkloof had rain a week ago which has brought some relief to that area.

New plantings coming into production are providing a counterpoint to the drought, as have the sustained, ingenious and even, in some cases, drastic efforts of producers and their technical teams in using water resources optimally.

“In a normal year, these new orchards would have added 4.2 million equivalent cartons of apples and 1.3 million equivalent cartons of pears to the estimate below, which relates to a 12% decline on this season’s preliminary potential,” Hortgro notes. “The decrease is a combination of factors which include the drought that has a negative impact on production volumes, fruit size, and packouts. Hail, wind, and sunburn have also contributed to lower export volumes.”

Hortgro continues, saying that a tough season in terms of grower returns and profitability levels is anticipated as a result of the strengthening of the Rand against the major currencies (US Dollar, UK Pound Sterling and the Euro). European stock levels, on the other hand, are at their lowest level for the past three years. 

By the end of week 4, almost 325,000 12.5kg equivalent cartons of apples have been exported (YTD), roughly half that of the same time last year, which is also a reflection of the fact that the harvest is about ten days later than last year. Pear exports by week 4 YTD (half a million cartons) is similarly 49% of last year's YTD volumes.

For more information:
Jacques du Preez
Tel: +27 21 870 2900

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