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Citrus feels the effects of worldwide bumper year for fruit and avocados

Valencia traders pin their hopes on post-holiday market recovery

The Valencia season in the north of South Africa, where the early varieties like Turkey and Benny are almost done and industry is moving over to the Midknights and Deltas, is looking good from a volume perspective – but so is everything else, saturating the market and dragging down the movement of fruit.

Peter Nicholson of Alicedale Estate says there is no apparent reason at the moment for this situation to change much for the foreseeable future. “There is no supply gap for the market to empty out. The European market is very full, there is a buildup of fruit and a low sales rate and therefore I think it’s going to remain a difficult year and a slow market.”

He continues: “It’s not just our citrus, it’s all fruit and it’s worldwide – peaches, plums, avocados. The climate was just such that there was huge production worldwide. For the remainder of the season there will be a perception of oversupply, even if it’s not the case.” 

Maarten Venter, marketing manager of Zest Fruit, confirms that the early Valencia window for Europe is slim this year, leading to a slower start.

“No use being too aggressive at the start of the season”
“We are now in a very slow phase and importers in the Northern Hemisphere are a bit pessimistic and applying the brakes to Valencia imports. There is a lot of summer fruit and people going on holiday would rather eat, say, stonefruit,“ notes Riaan Ellis, trading operations manager at Unifrutti, “but the expectation is that the momentum will improve with the re-opening of schools in Europe, towards the end of August, and the current situation just has to be managed to keep fruit moving. There’s no use being too aggressive at the start of the season, going for too high price points. We’re told Egyptian product should be out of the market in about three weeks’ time and then everyone should feel more positive about South African product. The only thing now is to remain patient.”

Early South African Valencias are being exported to an array of markets, of which Europe and the Middle East are important receivers, Russia a bit less so, and the Far East already strong but continually growing.

Valencia sizes are smaller than last year, differing between production areas and cultivars, but it seems as if Valencias from the Western and Eastern Cape are going to be smaller too. The narrower spectrum of calibres complicates marketing, especially since Egypt also had smaller counts. Some growers report a peak on count 72 for Turkey Valencias and Midknights, and between 72 and 88 on Deltas.

For more information:
Peter Nicholson
Alicedale Estate

Riaan Ellis
Unifrutti South Africa
Tel: +27 21 851 4075

Maarten Venter
Zest Fruit
Tel: +27 21 888 9100

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