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South Africa’s third kiwi export season gratifies with good arrivals

There has been a keen interest in South Africa’s entry into kiwifruit exports, and the third season of sending South African yellow kiwis to Europe, the Middle East and the Far East is now concluding and they’re looking back at a gratifying season, says Peter Turner of Variety Innovation, license holder of Soreli yellow kiwis in South Africa.

“There’s been quite a bit of excitement about South African kiwis from various quarters who are used to dealing with South African fruit,” he says, “But at the moment we can only tantalise them with very small volumes. South African growers are anxious to see what the demand is for their kiwis, what the returns are and what the condition on arrival is.”

As for demand, the growers needn’t worry: the freeze of May last year in Europe dented stocks. Marketeers in Northern Hemisphere encouraged the air freight of kiwis to an empty market at the early part of the season.

They decided not to store any kiwis, Peter says, but to export the yellow kiwis as soon as it was harvested due to strong demand.
On the point of quality upon arrival, they have been well-satisfied this season. “We’re still writing the book regarding postharvest protocols, but we had a very good season of sound arrivals.”

Hopefully the formal financing sector within South Africa can be brought around to the idea of a financially viable kiwifruit production for export, not only yellow but red-fleshed varieties in future as well, Peter notes.

There is also some resurgence of interest in the production and supply of green fleshed varieties to supply the local market where import price parity already exists.

Season characterised by sound arrivals
The few arrival problems there were, he says, was most probably caused by harvesting in high temperatures – Peter often returns to the latitudinal differences between South African kiwi production and that of the Italian and New Zealand industries, and consequently the higher temperatures under which the South African crop is taken off during the early part of the season in mid-February,

“But overall this season we had very sound product, with receivers commenting on an exceptionally deep-coloured product with high brix and excellent eating quality.”

South African kiwis are sent to markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, where South Africa currently fills what Peter calls a “microgap” before New Zealand comes in.

Soreli yellow kiwis are also grown in Chile, and the two territories are starting to partner with Northern Hemisphere growers to complement Northern supply with counterseasonal volumes.

For more information:
Peter Turner
Variety Innovation (EU)
Tel: +27 82 894 5938

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