Higher volumes than 2016

Heavy rains during South African mango harvest season affect quality

At the tail-end of the 2017 mango season, volumes are up from last year but quality hasn’t always followed suit, due to heavy rains during harvesting. In the northernmost areas mango growers are wrapping up their season while mango growers in Tzaneen still have about a month to go. 

“It was an interesting season. All our mango exports go to the Middle East. We started with Tommy Atkins and initially prices were high, although later it went down due to large volumes. Prices on the Keitts were better with our last consignment going this week. Producers received an average of $4.40, around R60 [€4.31] per 4kg box,” says Johan Malan of Delecta Fruit.

Karpus Exports has about a month to go on their Kent variety, similarly for the Middle East market. “Those varieties are always sought after and we send mangoes both by sea and by air. Prices vary, according to cultivar and size from the grower, FOB prices range from about $3.75 [€3.5] to $5 [€4.7] for a 4kg box,” reports Trevaun Naidu of Karpus Exports.

South African mangoes’ main competitor in the Middle Eastern market is Kenya, and more than 80% of local production goes towards domestic markets. “It was a difficult season with overproduction and markets incredibly full. There was a lot of rain during January and February – in the Mooketsi area, where we grow our mangoes, we got more than 500mm over those two months. So the quality wasn’t of the best,” says Clive Garrett of ZZ2. “We were certainly intending to export Kent and Keitt to the Middle East but because of quality problems we decided to send it to the local market. We can’t compete with Brazil and Peru quality-wise because they generally don’t get rain during their harvest season.” ZZ2 growers are still picking Kents and the season will end in about a month, later than last year.

“The two best performing varieties for us on local markets were Sensation and Tommy Atkins,” Garrett continues. “ZZ2 exported Tommy Atkins to the Middle East where we were very happy with the prices we got, certainly much better than anything on the local market.”

Theuns Botha of the farm Lapland also found that the much-needed rain at the beginning of the year adversely affected fruit quality. “Last year our fruits were smaller but I’d say the quality was better. The wetter the season, the more post-harvest problems you have.” His main cultivar is Keitt (he has phased out Kent due to anthracnose problems) which he delivers via direct marketing to a major retailer.

On local markets prices vary widely, depending on cultivar, size and colouring. “The Heidis are scarce, so it’s anything from R50 [€3.6] to even up to R80 [€5.75] per box. Keitt sells between R30 [€2.15] and R40 [€2.8] a 4kg box but a price hike is imminent as daily supplies are down in volume. Volumes were very high this year and we received very few complaints from the public with regards to quality,” says Christoff de Wet, RSA Group agent at the Johannesburg market.

Another market agent tells FreshPlaza that the majority of his Keitts are sold at R35 [€2.5] to R40 [€2.87] a box, with greener fruit attaining lower prices. Kent mangoes are sold loose at R6,50 [€0.46] to R7 [€0.5], a price driven by high quality. “I expect Heidis to come next week, excellent fruit, for which we could perhaps get R10 [€0.7] for a single fruit.” Due to its low and unpredictable yields, and its fussiness regarding climate, many mango producers have taken out their Heidi orchards, despite its popularity with South African consumers.

For more information:
Johan Malan
Delecta Fruit
Tel: +27 21 860 3999

Trevaun Naidu
Karpus Exports
Tel: +27 11 483 336

Clive Garrett
Tel: +27 15 395 8559 

Theuns Botha
Lapland Boerdery
Tel: +27 83 265 8838

Christoff de Wet
RSA Group
Tel: +27 116134391

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