One of the largest players in the Italian citrus trading market ordered and bought round oranges from a Limpopo orange company. Square oranges instead arrived in Sicily, Italy. This is how a judge described the damages claim which came before him in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
The Italian company Oranfrizer instituted a claim against Fruitone Ltd, a farming operation in Zebediela, Limpopo, amounting to about R1.3 million (€80,000).
Apparently due to how the Limpopo company packed the fruit prior to shipping, the round, orange fruit, no longer appeared round when the shipments landed in Sicily, as it was nearly all squashed and flat.
Judge Norman Davis remarked that what was actually to be a simple case, resulted in five years of litigation between the parties and a host of experts on the subject of packing and quality control, which were called to testify.
Representatives of the he Italian company came to South Africa in 2011 with the view to buy oranges for resale in Italy. They signed a deal with Fruitone that they would buy oranges from them and which had to be shipped to Italy. The Italian company at first bought different varieties of oranges as samples and to explore the relationship between the parties. All went well at first and perfectly round oranges arrive in Italy.
Things went wrong the following year when Fruitone sent four shipments of navel oranges to Italy; the oranges in these shipments were below par. A control officer immediately identified problems regarding the stacking of the cartons of oranges in the pallets.
Judge Davis was told that a large number of oranges had in fact been so compressed or crushed that they had split open. According to iol.co.za¸ the Italian quality controller testified that even if an orange had not split, the cells and flesh inside suffered damage and became liable to oxidation and decay.
On Thursday 20 December, Freshplaza asked Oranfrizer for a comment, but received none at this time.