Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa, has just been re-elected as the co-chair of the World Citrus Organisation. Even while tackling some of the biggest industry challenges to date, the citrus sector’s leader is flying South Africa’s flag high on the global stage.
Chadwick heads up the organisation alongside Jose Antonio Garcia of Ailimpo in Spain and says that he is excited that South Africa can work alongside Spain as the number one citrus exporter in the world. Chadwick regards the re-election as a huge honor for him and an opportunity to position the citrus sector as a global source of safe and nutritious fruit.
Food For Mzansi asked Chadwick: Congratulations are in order. What does this re-election mean for citrus growers back home?
Chadwick: It is significant to be elected as co-chair with Spain because Spain is the number one exporter of citrus in the world and it is in the northern hemisphere, while South Africa is the number two citrus exporter in the world and number one in the southern hemisphere. To be co-leader also means that we can work together in positioning the global citrus industry as a global supplier of nutritious, healthy and safe fruit.
Citrus is now having a global representative body to showcase the sector in the same way that apples, pears, avocados, table grapes, berries and other fruit sectors’ global representative bodies [do]. The citrus industry can grow market share by ensuring consumers understand the value of purchasing the product.
What are the major industry challenges and are we seeing any positive changes?
The biggest challenge is around logistics in terms of costs, availability and efficiency. Freight rates have increased to such an extent that it is uneconomic to export a large percentage of the Southern African citrus crop.
In some instances, freight rates have increased fourfold. Freight costs account for some 40% of supply chain costs. These increases are unsustainable. Availability of shipping containers is constrained due to congestion in major international ports, and some shipping lines have cancelled certain routes, meaning exporters have to truck fruit to more distant ports for shipping opportunities.