South African stonefruit exporters look for new direct routes to Russia

This year, South African stonefruit growers have faced some localised problems with hail, although according to Anton Rabe, of HortGro, “the quality and size are looking promising at this stage, and the harvest will also start about 8 to 10 days earlier than last year.”

In terms of markets, he explains that the company will continue focusing on its traditional markets, namely the UK and Germany. “We have raised our standards, especially on sugars, so quality will be good and we look forward to a good market.”

Regarding the situation created by the Russian ban, Anton affirms that “luckily we don’t face much competition at this time of the year, but direct exports to Russia are limited, shipments via Western Europe, unless they are full containers, can be problematic, so we have to find new ways of shipping directly to Russia.”

“The supply of fresh produce in Western Europe, not just fruit but also vegetables, is much higher, so price levels are depressed, which is definitely also a downside,” says Anton.

When it comes to volume, HortGro expects to continue the growing trend set in previous seasons. “This is not just the result of new plantings coming into production, but also of vertical growth, so the yields are increasing because of better plant material and production practices,” concludes Anton.

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