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South Africa: citrus exports 2021 confirm sustained industry growth

As South Africa’s 2021 citrus season is approaching the end, it has become clear that there was export growth, even during these challenging times for South African. Apart from the Covid situation, in July, the country experienced civil unrest expressed through looting and burning of small and big businesses. About 40 000 businesses, including shops, cargo trucks and warehouses, were affected.

Also in July, the country’s state owned company which controls ports and railway transport system, Transnet, experienced cyber-attacks leading to blocking of operations at its cold stores and freights. Despite these huddles data already collected by the end of second quarter of 2021 shows that citrus industry’s exports are projected to reach up to 159 million cartons. This is 9% growth compared to 2020. Leading citrus exporters assert that 40 – 45% of the cartons are destined for European market, while the remaining 55 – 60% is destined for Russian and East Asian markets. 

This resilience and growth of the citrus industry is supported by good rains of 2020/2021 growing season, favorable international prices, improved farming practices and technologies and growing access to market, especially in the East Asia. It is expected that the industry will grow by 500 000 tons over the next 3 to 5 years. In the midst of this growth, logistics to ensure that citrus can be exported timely and in good condition is still a challenge.


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