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South Africa: First apples to China

History was made this week when the exporting company, Core Fruit, sent the first consignment of apples to ever be exported from South Africa to the Chinese market. The consignment of 1 120 cartons (18,25 kg) of Royal Beaut apples, was loaded for the CMA Puccini on Monday the 23rd of March. The ship will be heading for China on Thursday the 27th of March and is bound to arrive at China’s Shanghai harbour on the 2nd of May, from where the apples will be distributed to shopping centres across China.

Royal Beaut apples are packed and approved by the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for exports to China.

Thomas Mouton, manager of apple and pear marketing at Core Fruit, sees the opening of the market as a huge breakthrough for the South African apple industry: “The Chinese market not only promises to reward producers well for good quality, but will also help to diversify our markets. It has the potential to grow significantly over the next few years and serve as a springboard to other Eastern countries.”
Quantifying or qualifying the market is difficult. “So far it seems that there is especially a good demand for Royal Beaut, Fuji and Granny Smith apples in China, but it is all new territory so it’s too early to estimate the real demand or market potential,” Mouton said.

The South African Apple and Pear Producers’ Association (SAAPPA) is over the moon about the opening of the Chinese market to South African apples, as it has taken more than eight years for South Africa to negotiate market access to China. The Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have done a sterling job in opening this market for us, according to Nicholas Dicey, Chairman of SAAPPA.

Photo left: Louis Gilliomee (left) and Fanna du Toit of Core Fruit ensure the quality of the Royal Beaut apples that will be exported to China is right. The Chinese demands large apples of deeper colours than what most of our traditional markets demand.
Photo right: (from left to right) Adelaide Madavha and Francois Moller of the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, together with Louis Giliomee and Fanna du Toit of Core Fruit and Jacques du Preez of Hortgro, proudly look at the cartons of Royal Beaut apples that have been approved for the first exports of South African apples to China.

China is of strategic importance to the growth of the apple industry and in effect the South African economy, according to him. “The maintenance of traditional markets and development of new markets is of critical importance to us, so that we can maintain our position as one of the largest apple exporters in the world and stay ahead of other apple producing countries. This on the other hand is important for the implementation of sustainable land reform and transformation, as well as the creation of job opportunities, especially in rural communities.”

The trade agreement should fast track market access to China for other fruit, such as pears and stone fruit. “Negotiating market access for other fruit should be easier, since we have been through the ropes and now have a better understanding of the market requirements and who to deal with during negotiations,” Dicey said.

Dicey is optimistic about the future for apples in the Chinese market. “The Chinese market is different from our traditional markets, such as Europe and the United Kingdom, but South African producers are highly adaptable and will soon be able to adapt to these new market requirements. We have already proved this in other countries, such as in Africa, which has now become our biggest export destination, as well as in the Middle East and in Russia.”

For more information:
Jacques du Preez
Tel: +27 082 864 8149

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