South African topfruit crop forecast shows drop by 6-9%

The continued drought conditions experienced in the major pome fruit production areas has impacted negatively on pome fruit export volumes. Despite challenging climatic conditions, the initial pome fruit crop estimate anticipated a 5% growth in export volumes - mainly due to new orchards coming into production.

However, as the harvesting season progressed, the industry realised that the anticipated volumes are not going to materialize as fruit size in general and pack-outs of fruits on the tree were affected by a combination of drought and heatwave conditions.

Current volumes in storage combined with exports to date led to the downward adjustment for pome fruit export cartons. The newly calculated volumes indicates a decrease of between -6% to -9% compared to the previous season (refer to table below).

Pome fruit export estimate (12.5 kg equivalent cartons) 

A decrease in export volumes of Golden Delicious (-11%), Granny Smith (-20%), Pink Lady (-29%) and Fuji (-16%) can directly be attributed to weather conditions impacting on colour development, fruit size and pack-outs

Pear export volumes are also down on initial projections. The decrease in export volumes of Williams Bon Chretien (-5%) is due to smaller fruit size, good demand from the canning industry and a lack in demand from the Northern Hemisphere importing countries. Packhams Triumph (-4%), Abate Fetel (-14%) and Vermont Beauty (-19%) are also down compared to last year. On the contrary export volumes of Forelle are in line with the previous season.

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 Euro) in combination with the decrease in export volumes.

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