The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal citrus season ends in October after six months while the Western Cape fruit season resumes in November. Actual citrus volumes are 20.2% higher at the Cape Town Container Terminal, 31.2% higher at the Durban Container Terminals and 32.3% higher than prior year volumes at the Ngqura and Port Elizabeth Container Terminals.
Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) is tracking ahead of a planned 13% citrus export volume increase in 2020 across 4 of its 19 terminals. Citrus volumes are 29.4% higher across all terminals combined when compared to prior year volumes.
General Manager Sales and New Business Development Siyabulela Mhlaluka said: “We are halfway through the citrus season and despite the well-documented challenge of COVID 19 – TPT is exceeding the reefer targets having prepared well ahead.” He added that annually, the most critical element of terminal preparations was the availability of equipment, having sufficient plug points and human resources.
Citrus fruits form about 55% of South Africa’s fruit production. The fruits are exported in refrigerated containers called reefers to over 100 countries mainly in the European Union, Russia, the United States and Mediterranean countries. Valencia oranges make up the biggest portion of the citrus export market at 35%, followed by navel oranges (19%), lemons (18%), soft citrus (16%), and grapefruit (12%).
According to the Citrus Growers Association’s (CGA), the annual growth is attributed to new orchards coming into production and good rains across some regions. To date, there has been a higher output of lemons across the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape. While COVID19 and inclement weather posed some serious challenges especially in availability of human resources, Mhlaluka said TPT was geared up for a rather productive 2020-reefer season.