The South African stonefruit industry welcomes a return to normality after a few difficult years.
Lohan Marais, commercial director at Icon Fruit, the new partnership between the Unlimited Group and Cape Fresh Produce, is cautiously optimistic.
Their plums have only recently started, and volumes are significantly higher than last year, which was a very difficult plum season. “Our first big cultivar is Ruby Dawn and it’s looking good, we’re positive.”
Ruby Dawn plums (photos supplied by Icon Fruit)
“We started with peaches and nectarines in October. The early cultivars are finishing up, there were just some sizing issues because of the cool springtime. We’ll soon start with the mid-season cultivars and they’re looking good, with sizing better than on the early cultivars.”
Their apricots start quite early from the Klein-Karoo with Charisma, now they’re moving over to Imperial.
“After a few difficult years, all we’re looking for is a good, normal year and so far, so good,” he says. “We’re satisfied with the peach and nectarine volumes, apricots and plums too.”
Rising stonefruit arrivals from this week
The impact of Covid has remained a source of uncertainty but they have definitely felt a pull from the market.
He notes that they could sense that the market was empty when the season started.
Right: a 5kg carton of Ruby Dawn plums being packed at the moment
Their retail programmes in the EU and UK have been running smoothly, similarly in the Middle East.
From this week significant stonefruit volumes will start arriving on the markets and they will, he says, be very relieved when they completely switch over to seafreight.
“We’ve been flying out a fair bit, but not more than other years. It is very expensive and the fact that you can’t always fly it out from Cape Town means that we are still trucking fruit up to Johannesburg, which means another two days on the road – it adds more complexity but you know, you always make a plan.”