On the eve of the South African Sharon fruit harvest the main concern is, still, Covid and its potential impact on packing and shipping.
"The only potential stumbling block is a possible third wave of Covid. Last year when we started, it was the start of the pandemic, but our volumes weren't as large last year. We didn't encounter many problems, what the packhouse did, was to introduce two shifts to facilitate social distancing and we packed day and night," says Hein Smal, of Sharon Fruit South Africa.
"But this year, with the volumes we're expecting, if there are problems caused by Covid it could really disrupt our campaign."
They are expecting approximately 4,000 tonnes this season.
"We'll start picking a few bins next week Wednesday, and by the end of week 15 we hope to start loading out the first containers for Europe and Singapore," he says. "At this stage that is our expectation, the situation could perhaps change according to the weather. It's 33°C here today, but our producers have indicated they expect the harvest to start at the usual time."
Photos supplied by Sharon Fruit South Africa
The Sharon fruit grown in South Africa are produced counterseasonally for Mor International's programmes in the UK, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. There is a strong focus on retail programmes.
"Everything is looking great this season: the volumes are more, sizes look better, quality looks better, everything looks better than last year. We've been very blessed with rain throughout and next week there's another cold front predicted."
He notes that South African Sharon fruit lovers are always impatient for the start of the season, which they can expect to see in supermarkets and greengrocers by mid-April.