Cape Town-based GF Marketing specialises in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, supplying their markets with predominantly citrus and topfruit.
Last year there was increased demand for kiwifruit also, because of its famed vitamin C content.
Right: The new season's Royal Gala Red (photos supplied by GF Marketing)
“We are 50% owned by Tru-Cape, South Africa’s largest grower-packer of topfruit which essentially strengthens us in our marketplace as, although citrus is the biggest ‘seller’, you need to have apples and pears to balance ‘the basket’,” explains David Pearce, CEO of GF Marketing (the GF stands for “Good Fruit”).
“For all fruit we buy from growers throughout South Africa at a fixed price.”
Nine years ago they started sourcing fruit from Chile, and that has since expanded to Uruguay, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
The company started with the aim of developing a tight focus on one marketplace – the Middle East and India. Later the scope naturally widened to include Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. These markets all take significant volumes of citrus.
David is cautious on whether they expect the same huge demand and price increases of last year. He points out that oranges haven’t been planted at the rate of mandarins or lemons.
“For oranges, 2020 was a normal year, production-wise.”
Slow grape and stone fruit markets
They don’t trade in a lot of grapes, seeing as India is also in the grape market at the moment. The markets are very difficult currently with low pricing. Poor quality grapes are affecting good quality grapes.
There have been requests from buyers for less loose grapes and more in punnets but, he notes drily, the cost implications not only on packaging but also on logistics usually end the discussion.
“The current stone fruit season is not a good one either, due to weather before and during harvest as well as poor market conditions.”
Last year the appearance of COVID-19 coincided with the harvest of South Africa’s early lemons, and as a result that all of the lemons originally destined for the Far East were diverted to the Middle East.
This, on top of the fact that China does not take lemons, added to a massive oversupply and buckled the market but David points out that it wasn’t a crash.
Right: Flamingo pears
“The “crash” was essentially a realignment of very high pricing down to a level where it stayed for most of the remainder of the season. We do not expect this massive oversupply situation to happen again.”
As for container availability, they’re emphatic: they never have any problems in that regard.